The key to creating one of the best grilled cheeses is to use ghee and a blend of real artisan cheeses. Ghee is clarified butter which has a higher smoke point than normal butter providing you more time to completely melt the cheese without charring the bread. Not much is worse than burnt bread on a sandwich.
Blending three or four cheeses creates a more dynamic and flavorful grilled cheese. Fontina, Gruyere, Gouda, and Cheddar work well together. The Gouda and Gruyere are bolder cheeses while the Fontina has a more subtle flavor so add more Fontina in your blend. Kids are used to Kraft American so definitely use more Fontina for them.
I asked Ceteka Holder, the cheese specialist at Whole Foods for grass fed artisan cheeses. She recommended a Cave Aged Gruyere from Switzerland, a Smith’s Farmstead Gouda with raw milk from Massachusetts, and a Val D’Aosta Fontina from Italy.
Ceteka told me the cheeses from Switzerland are grass fed. The farmers in the Alps practice the old fashion method of transhumance where the cows graze in the summer up in the mountains and the valleys in the colder months. Since the cows follow the normal migration patterns and only eat lush grass, these cows should have more CLA and Vitamin E in the milk used to create the cheese. CLA helps lower cholesterol so using a high quality pasture milk, cheese and butter may be better for your heart! In moderation, of course.
Using a high quality bread with some grains or herbs makes a difference in the taste as well as the nutritional value since there are not as many preservatives and chemicals like potassium bromate added. I use an organic Rosemary Sourdough and a hearth seed style bread for my grilled cheeses. I think the rosemary sourdough tastes the best and compliments the cheeses. The seed breads are great for turkey sandwiches when you want a crunch.
Another way to change up grilled cheese night is to add a slice or two of ripe, juicy tomatoes with fresh basil to several sandwiches. It is delicious. Even the kids prefered the tomato and basil grilled cheese to the plain cheese sandwiches.
We opt for adding a couple tomato slices instead of serving the grilled cheese with a bowl of tomato soup since tomatoes can contribute to inflammation in the body. Tomatoes are a Nightshade plant and should be limited if you have back or joint pain. Try some chicken noodle soup or a broth based soup for dipping instead.
1) Turn your stove top burner on low to medium and heat your cast iron skillet. Slice the cheeses.
2) Spread ghee on both sides and place on the hot skillet.
3) Lightly brown the one side and then flip the bread over and add the cheese. Add tomatoes and basil if you wish. Place the second slice of bread on top.
4) Flip the sandwich and cook the other slice of bread. Remove the sandwich when the cheese has melted. Serve warm.
Apple slices go well with this grilled cheese. Enjoy!