Sunday, January 27, 2013

Grilled Cheese Upgraded?

Have you seen the new commercials for Sonic Drive-In for their Ultimate Grilled Cheese sandwiches?  One of the men in the car states, "grilled cheese upgraded" while holding a sandwich that has the ingredients for a Philly Cheesesteak.  The other has the "BLT" which stands for bacon, lettuce and tomato, if you didn't know.  So what exactly is the upgrade?  Well instead of using a sub roll for the Philly and regular sliced bread for the BLT, Sonic uses Texas Toast style bread.  Texas Toast  is very thick slices of bread that are normally used for making garlic toast or french toast.  I'm sure its used to make sandwiches also, but the other uses seem to be the more popular.

So again I ask, "What exactly is the upgrade?"  Looking at the photos, the bread makes the sandwich look thick, but you don't see much in between those slices; maybe a bit of lettuce, perhaps a hint of tomato or peppers, and is that brownish color the meat?  Maybe the BLT is upgraded because cheese is now incorporated, but you cannot upgrade a Philly Cheesesteak by changing from a roll to sliced bread.  That seems more like an insulting downgrade in my opinion.

The Grilled Cheese sandwich is an ultimate comfort food of its own. No matter what your age, toasted bread with gooey cheese brings out warm childhood memories, especially when it is nasty weather outside. When you add another ingredient inbetween the gooey cheese, isn't that an "upgrade" in itself? Consider the Tuna Melt or the Patty Melt; both made the same way as a grilled cheese, but with the inclusion of either tuna or a hamburger patty. What about when tomato and bacon are added to a grilled cheese? Just add lettuce and there's your BLT right there.

Well I'm going to give you my "upgraded" version of a Grilled Cheese BLT; packed with filling, messy, gooey and oh so, disgustingly good.   While you can use any bread you like, I'm going to be using English Muffin bread; same airiness as the muffins to get those nooks and crannies, just in a sliced bread form.  This bread looks like typical white bread, but with a firmer texture. 

I'm also going to use mayonnaise as my frying oil, instead of traditional butter for a grilled cheese.  If you're a fan of flavored mayonnaise such as avocado, wasabi, chipotle or sweet chili, spread those on the insides of your bread slices; use regular mayonnaise for the frying.

Time to make the sandwich...

Besides the mayonnaise, you'll need four slices of thick cut bacon (or double up with thin bacon), slices of tomato (2 to 3 depending on the size of the tomato) and Romaine lettuce (try to use the  stems inside the head, they're crispier).

Slather mayonnaise on both sides of each slice of bread, don't be cheap about it!  Heat your stovetop griddle or skillet on medium-high heat, place the slices down onto it and put one slice of American cheese, then cover that with a slice of Cheddar.  The American will melt into ooey-gooeyness while the Cheddar will form an enclosure, or seal, to keep the cheese from oozing out. 

When you see the Cheddar start to form its enclosure, place the bacon, then the tomato on one slice of bread. Here's the tricky part, the mayonnaise browns the bread much faster than regular butter, so check the slice with just the cheese on it. If it is browned the way you like it, put the lettuce on top of the tomato, top with the other cheesy slice of bread, press down to help seal it together and remove to a plate.

...and there my readers is my version of the upgraded Grilled Cheese sandwich, or the Grilled Cheese BLT. It is messy; you will get it all over your face and fingers; you will laugh; you will enjoy yourself.   Then again, enjoying your food, isn't that what you should be doing anyway?

Mary Cokenour