Give your grilled cheese sandwich a Parmesan crust
I'm a bit of a grilled cheese purist. I like to eat mine on white bread, smeared with butter (no mayo) and filled with sticky, processed American cheese. A good havarti is also acceptable if the mood dictates a touch of luxury, but harder, acidic cheeses like cheddar or parmesan are not allowed - unless you put them on the outside of the sandwich.
The very properties that make parmesan, cheddar and other hard cheeses so unsuitable for the inside of a sandwich make them so suitable for the outside. Because of their low pH, these cheeses tend to expand and solidify, rather than melt into a soft, creamy blob (which is what you want between your bread). But when you put them on the outside of a sandwich, the fat in the cheese melts, cooking the proteins and leaving a network of crispy, salty, fried cheese. It's frico, only it's stuck to bread.
Basically, if you can make a cheese crisp with it, you can use it to make a crispy crust on the outside of your sandwich. Cheddar works, parmesan shavings work, even powdered parmesan can do it. Over the course of my many serious sandwich experiments, I found that the powdered parmesan sticks best to the bread and detaches from the pan, but the shredded stuff has a better flavor. (Real Parmigiano-Reggiano would of course have the best flavor, but it's the most expensive option.)
Adding an external layer of cheese to your cheese sandwich is easy: Spread some softened butter on the outside of the bread (or dip it in melted butter), then sprinkle a tablespoon (or more, depending on the size of your bread) of the desired cheese on each slice of buttered bread, pressing down gently to make it stick. Place a slice of bread cheese-side down in a non-stick pan, place the softer "filling" inside and cook over medium heat until the outer cheese forms a golden crust and the inner cheese is completely melted. If you are concerned that the cheese may burn, use a plastic spatula or kitchen utensil to gently lift a corner and take a look. Slide onto a plate, cut diagonally in half, and enjoy.
Was this article helpful?31 Posted by: 👨 Amanda J. Howard