Did this week’s review of Beecher’s put you in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich? Well, New York now has a plethora of options for gourmet grilled cheese. In addition to the Seattle-based emporium, you can check out Melt Shop, Queens Kickshaw, Noorman’s Kil, and the soon-to-open Little Muenster, which will bring ooey, gooey sandwiches to the Lower East Side, located at 100 Stanton Street (212-203-7197). You’ll have to wait until November 1 to sample Little Muenster’s grilled cheeses, but if you can’t wait until then, we got in touch with its owners to learn the five most important tips for making awesome grilled cheese sandwiches at home.
1. “Use the right bread! It’s the foundation of your sandwich, so choose wisely,” notes chef Andrew Millspaugh, who created the menu along with owners Adam Schneider and Vanessa Palazio. He’s partial to a hearty peasant bread, crusty on the outside and about a half-inch thick. He also stresses that it’s important that the bread does not have too many irregular holes caused by hydration, or else large masses of cheese will melt right through.
2. Keep it simple. Stay away from adding too many filler ingredients. “If you’re using a fruit puree, meat, or sautéed vegetables, they should always complement the cheese, not compete with it.”
3. Gather inspiration from some other favorite food dishes. Pizzas, pastas, and cheese platters are all good places to start for inspiration on great sandwich combinations.
4. Know your cheese. “Fresh cheese, semisoft cheese, and hard cheese do not respond to heat in the same way,” says Millspaugh. “Some cheeses become smooth and stringy while others become more like a syrupy liquid at high temperatures. Depending on the cheese you may choose to toast the bread and insert the cheese afterwards.” For more info on melting times, he suggests checking out Murray’s Cheese Handbook.
5. And finally, do not use a panini press! “You are not making a panini; you are making grilled cheese. If a griddle is not an option, opt for the reusable Tostabags. They make the perfect crusty grilled cheese, even in a simple, no-frills toaster.” Little Muenster’s owners add that Tostabags will also be available for purchase in-store.