Melted cheese in between two slices of bread, whether fried in a skillet or ironed, á la Benny & Joon, is having its annual moment. April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and to celebrate, we've asked L.A.'s cheesiest chefs what they do to make their grilled cheese special.
A common comment from these gooey gurus? Grilled cheese is personal. Everyone's idea of the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich is different, and many people simply like to make their own so as to avoid getting stuck with a greasy mess. If your technique is not yet flawless, read on for some pro tips.
Annie Miler, chef/owner, Clementine: "It's funny. My daughter doesn't like Clementine's grilled cheese, though they are incrediably popular at the shop. She likes the way I make them at home. I use butter, wheat bread and orange Tillamook sharp cheddar. The orange cheddar is key. I melt the butter right on my non-stick, cast aluminum griddle and then fry slowly on one side before flipping."
Eric Greenspan, chef/owner The Foundry, Greenspan's Grilled Cheese (forthcoming): "In terms of fat, just use butter. No other fat is going to produce as much flavor or color." On bread: "You want good, not great bread. Great bread comes from great yeast, and great yeast creates delicious flavors, but also lighter or bigger air pockets. These air pockets keep you from achieving even coloration."
Dave Danhi, owner/head cheese The Grilled Cheese Truck: "We make our own mixture of butter and mayonnaise. We use this mixture because it has a higher smoke point than just butter alone. Some people really don't like mayonnaise, but when mixed with room temperature butter and then spread on the bread before it goes in the pan, it creates a perfect, crunchy crust."
Paul Coletta, The Melt: "Start with great cheese, then grate it. It will melt more evenly through the center, guaranteeing a perfectly cooked grilled cheese."