Now I’m not one to just come out and crap on a big fast food place. I try to keep things light and positive up in here. But today my girlfriend took my oldest daughter to the dentist and didn’t have time to make it back for dinner. They showed up at home with food from my arch nemesis; McDonald’s. Get it? Arch nemesis? Arch? Cause their sign is golden arches? Oh never mind.
My daughter opens up her Gimmick Meal and pulls out a grilled cheese sandwich. Wow, I didn’t even know they made those. She unwraps her sandwich and what I see just makes me sad but doesn’t surprise me. If you thought those little burgers they dump into those kids meals looked pathetic then you obviously haven’t seen this thing. Just a smooshed, gloopy mess. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before my loathing for processed cheese. I can’t even bear to unwrap a slice of the stuff. When I was a young kid that was essentially what I thought cheese was. Oh, and I hated it. Just touching it makes me cringe like a Kardashian giving dignity a try.
Both of my kids know at least that this type of food is garbage. But like most of us, when they get their hands on this stuff they devour it. You figure, oh well they are kids, it’s the toys in the meals they want. Sure, that can be true I suppose to a degree but they eat all of the bloody food given to them and love it! We all have guilty pleasures though, especially when it comes to food. The trick is to make sure they aren’t eating this stuff all the time. One good way to do that is to school them good on what the hell a real grilled cheese tastes like. You won’t believe me when I tell you this but somehow the stars aligned perfectly tonight to inspire this article because my plan for dinner whilst they were at the dentist today was to mess around and try a few different grilled cheese ideas. What are the odds right? I don’t know the odds really. I am pretty. I amn’t no mathemagician.
So what are the two main ingredients you need to make a kick ass grilled cheese? Well, simply put: bread and cheese. Just the variety in each of those categories make for a near infinite amount of possiblities. If I crunch some numbers real quick we are talking about 18.3 million kinds of grilled cheese. And that’s just with bread and cheese. Start adding some veggies and meat and we are talking about over a billion types of the same sandwich. What fast food place can claim that?
Alright now the first thing I need to figure out is which bread I am going to use. I have been craving pumpernickel bread alot lately so naturally the bakery doesn’t have any. They’ve pretty much just got 9 grain bread left today so I guess I’ll be working with that. I hit up a second store and find a nice fresh loaf of sunflower and sesame bread which I don’t think I’ve ever tried before.
Next step is to get some cheese. The grocery store by my place has really stepped up their cheese game in the last few years so I’ve got some nice selection to choose from. Keeping in mind that I want my kids to love these sandwiches I can’t get too crazy of a cheese this time around. I settle on some classic swiss cheese and a funkier black pepper raclette style cheese. Ya baby.
I could just stick with a straight up bread and cheese combo but I like to zazz it up so I score some cubed Genoa salami, a red onion, some mushrooms, and Italian parsley. As you can see by the image I am going with two different preparations.
For one, I am using the 9 grain bread, the swiss, some crisped up salami and sautéed onion. For the other I am going with the sunflower and sesame bread with the black pepper cheese, mushrooms sautéed with a touch of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, and some chopped parsley.
First thing I do is butter the outsides of each slice of bread. If you’ve never done this before it’s a bit tough to figure out which side of the slice is the inside and which is the outside but I’m sure you can figure it out. Then I line the insides of the bread with a slice of cheese. Each sandwich will have two slices of cheese in total which isn’t too bad. This may not be the healthiest meal in the world but it’s gotta be better than that thing my kid got. That thing actually looked depressed to be existing.
Now in a pan on high heat I carmelize the thinly sliced onions and crisp up the salami. In a separate pan I fry up the mushrooms and as they soften I add in the soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, say like a teaspoon of each. Right when those are about done I toss in the parsley. Alright, the stuffings for each sandwich are ready so I load up the bread with them and fold the other slice of bread over so it resembles something like a sandwich of sorts.
The final step is to heat up a dry pan on high heat. I like to get a good crunchy exterior to these so I let them cook in the pan on each side on the high heat for a couple of minutes, just peeking to make sure they aren’t burning. This is thick bread and I want to make sure my cheese is ooey gooey in the middle so once the outside is nice and crispy I turn down the heat and cook them for another minute or two on each side. SHAZAMO! Done! This test run was a success. My lady friend loved the mushroom one and I loved the salami sandwich, well I liked both but the salami and onions were just sexy as hell for me.
When I was younger and riding the joyous highs and lows of depression I sought out fast food garbage often. I am paying for it now and working my ass of in the gym to try to find those muscles I once had that are buried beneath my fast food glow. I don’t want that for my kids. I want my kids to love real food. Not cheese that glows in the dark and has a longer shelf life than some pets. Maybe if I can win them over with these sandwiches I am on the right track. But if my attempts with homemade burgers are any indication they’ll still like the crap better. To be fair, my meal doesn’t come with toys and a giant, crazy play area. Damn you golden arches.