The world's best grilled cheese sandwich.
Makes one delicious sandwich
2 slices good sourdough bread (see notes)
1-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (see notes)
1-2 ounces thinly sliced gruyere cheese (see notes)
1. Set a dry nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat and let it warm while you work.
2. Spread the butter evenly and generously on each slice of bread. When the skillet is hot, lay one slice of bread, butter side down, in the skillet (it should sizzle gently when you do this). Layer the cheese onto the bread in the skillet in an even layer. Lay the second slice of bread, butter side up, on top.
3. Flip the sandwich over carefully, so that the freshly buttered side is now on the bottom (holding everything together as you do this, since the cheese won't have melted yet). The first side should be no more than lightly golden brown at this point (if it's darker, turn the heat down). Let the sandwich sit and sizzle in the pan for another 2-5 minutes, then flip the sandwich again.
4. The sandwich is ready when both sides are golden brown and crisp, and the cheese has melted. Serve hot, alongside a bowl of this tomato soup for one of the best cozy meals you can have.
A grilled cheese sandwich is a gift from the culinary gods, just about any way you do it. As long as you have enough cheese and reasonably good bread, you just about can't go wrong.
In this recipe, I'm combining good sourdough bread and gruyere cheese. They're really great together, because the slight tang of the sourdough and the strong, salty umami hit from the guyere combine for a flavor bomb in your mouth. It's one of those situations where the two come together in such perfect harmony that you don't notice either one. (What you notice is that you just can't stop eating this sandwich because it's the best thing you've ever tasted.)
So - what do I mean by good sourdough? I mean that, ideally, your baker made the bread from scratch and allowed it to ferment for a day or so before baking it. Like my local baker, Rachel Crampsey. A great loaf will be crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, and a little sour all the way through.
For the curious: check out this episode from Gastropod, all about sourdough - the microbes, the starters, the bakers, the loaves and the history (which came first - the beer or the bread?).
So - what if you don't have good sourdough? Just use the best bread you can find.
The amount of butter you'll want will depend on the size of your slices. If you're cutting slices yourself from a hand-crafted loaf, it also depends on whether you're cutting diagonal slices, which will be bigger than perpendicular slices. The main idea is to be generous. (And softened butter will make it easier to slather the right amount on evenly.)
Finally: To lid or not to lid? You might have noticed I don't call for covering the skillet at any point. I think it's unnecessary - if the temperature is just right, the sandwich will be in the pan long enough for the cheese to melt without being covered. The problem with covering the pan is that the sandwich might steam a bit rather than frying, which will leave you with not-quite-so crispy golden brown bread. So bottom line: I don't lid.