by Teo Schollmaier
The first step to a great grilled cheese is the bread. The bread is the foundation of the grilled cheese and should be treated as the most important ingredient. Wonder Bread is not adequate for a true life-changing grilled cheese. I use the Breadworks Batard, but any high quality, dense, doughy bread will do. Make sure the bread is thick-cut.
The second main ingredient is cheese. I use cheddar, although this can be modified to whatever cheese or cheese mixture you might want. It is very important that you shred the cheese instead of just slicing it. This will allow for it to melt more consistently. Use significantly more cheese than you think you need—when you think, “Hmmm, this can’t be a healthy or reasonable amount of cheese,” you’ll know you’re about halfway there.
The next step is to heat a griddle on medium heat. This temperature gives the cheese a chance to melt while browning the bread quickly enough that it doesn't become soggy with absorbed oil. I like to spread mayonnaise on the outside of the bread to act as cooking oil. Use enough mayonnaise to completely fill the surface of the bread, but you should still be able to see the texture of the bread through the translucence of the mayonnaise. This makes the bread brown more evenly than butter or olive oil and adds a little bit of tangy flavor.
To assemble the sandwich, put a piece of bread mayonnaise-side down on the hot griddle and dump the shredded cheese onto the bread and the general area around the bread. This cheese will become crispy and delicious, and as the cheese fats render they will help the bread brown. At this step, I sprinkle on a little bit of MSG (read this article) to act as a flavor enhancer and give a slight parmesan taste. Place the other piece of bread mayonnaise side up on top of the other half of the sandwich. Cover and grill for about 5 minutes, or until the bread is brown and the cheese is mostly melted, then flip and wait until the other side is also browned.
By far, the most important step in cooking a good grilled cheese is to slice the sandwich in half at an angle for the best possible presentation. If you skip this simple step, then the sandwich will not live up to its full potential.