Warning – do not attempt to make a grilled cheese sandwich in the toaster! Well, of course you wouldn’t do that, but when my brother, Jim, was 4 years old, he thought that’s how it should be done. He knew what he liked, and he was ready to eat! Keep in mind this was over 50 years ago, well before Food Network or even The French Chef captured the interest of so many people.
But, really, is there an American classic that’s simpler than the humble grilled cheese sandwich? I think not. The grilled cheese sandwich became a staple of household menus in the 1920s, when sliced bread that was affordable and inexpensive cheese became available. The term “toasted cheese” or “melted cheese” sandwich was used before grilled cheese made its appearance in print in the 1960s.
Once touted as a kid’s food, it should be no surprise that this simple sandwich ranks high on many lists of favorite comfort foods. Today, there are restaurants and food trucks devoted to it! Our Dairy Bar at the Indiana State Fair serves several varieties of grilled cheese sandwiches for the 17-day run of the fair. Last year, the crew there served over 2200 sandwiches PER DAY! American cheese on white bread is the yearly best seller, but a new variety is added each year. What will this year’s new comer be??? Stay tuned!
In the meantime, here’s an awesome recipe from one of America’s dairy farmers, giving a classic staple a new twist or two – and serving it at breakfast!
This simple breakfast sandwich hits a whole host of tastes - sweet syrup, salty and smoky bacon, and tangy white Cheddar. Pure maple syrup makes a big difference in the intensity of the flavor in the maple butter. Use leftover maple butter on toast, pancakes, or warm biscuits.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 3 T. pure maple syrup
- 4 frozen waffles, thawed
- 4 slices white Cheddar cheese
- 1 apple or pear
- 4 slices peppered bacon, cooked
- For the maple butter, combine the butter and maple syrup in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy.
- If not using immediately, cover and chill until ready to use.
- Any leftover butter can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks; allow to come to room temperature before using.
- Spread one side of each waffle with some of the maple butter.
- Top the buttered side of two of the waffles with one slice of cheese each.
- If desired, peel the apple or pear.
- Slice the apple or pear into thin slices.
- Divide the fruit slices between the two waffles on top of the cheese.
- Top each with two slices of cooked bacon.
- Top with another slice of cheese.
- Place a second waffle, buttered side down, on each stacked waffle.
- Melt about 1 T. of the maple butter in a skillet over medium heat.
- Place the panini in the pan.
- Weight with a heavy skillet.
- Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the waffles are toasted.
- Turn panini over, weight, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more or until the waffles are toasted and the cheese is melted.
- Serve immediately.
Now, what would a grilled cheese sandwich be without a friend – namely, tomato soup! Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, has a wonderful recipe for the Best Tomato Soup Ever. And don’t forget to top off your meal with a nice cold glass of milk!