I’m not a naturally adventurous cook, but I love to try new restaurants. My boyfriend and I
stumbled across a grilled cheese pop up – The Blue Light Speak Cheesy – in Brooklyn during one of our restaurant voyages, and I realized that I never made a grilled cheese before. I sat down with The Blue Light Speak Cheesy creator, Andy, to learn how grilled cheese sandwiches became her specialty and how to successfully make one at home.
Andy isn’t a chef, but The Blue Light Speak Cheesy has been her schooling after working in other parts of restaurants. She needed to gain some experience with cooking, and grilled cheeses were an easy way for her to grow her confidence with cooking. As Andy puts it, if you have “amazing bread, amazing cheese and a lot of love then you’re good.” She also admits that even a bad grilled cheese is a good grilled cheese.
After grounding me in her philosophy, Andy showed me how to make a sandwich step-by-step and then put me to the test with these tricks:
- Use plenty of butter – Once Andy picks out a bread, she uses plenty of butter on the outside of each bread slice. Well-buttered bread sets her up for a smooth grilling experience; however, Andy does have a mystery butter that makes her sandwiches better than ours ever could be.
- Pair two cheeses together – A skillfully melted grilled cheese sandwich requires pairing a creamy (soft) cheese with an aged (hard) cheese. Andy taught me that aged cheeses don’t easily melt, so she makes sure to shred them into pieces before putting them directly onto the bread. Once she pairs an aged cheese with a creamy cheese, her customers are destined to have a tasty, melty consistency. Andy’s favorite cheese mashup is smoked gouda and cheddar, but she also suggests manchego and fontina together. She’ll often go to a cheese shop and ask an employee about which cheese pairings they recommend. However, her self-taught approach to cooking inspires her to go against the rules and take pairing risks.
- Keep it simple – The sandwich is about the cheese, so any other ingredients need to be minimal and complement the cheese. Most of Andy’s menu items have two or three additional ingredients like chorizo and peppers or grilled pears with honey and rosemary. If the ingredients are local and in season, the sandwich will be even better!
- Cook low and slow – A good grilled cheese takes time, so Andy recommends being patient by cooking the sandwich slowly on low heat. Using a small amount of butter on the outside of the sandwich and cooking it on high heat, is asking for it burn. The goal is to achieve the perfect mix of even browning on the outside and melted cheese on the inside. Bonus tip – purchase a “brick” to make the job even easier.
From childhood meals to food trucks and pop ups, everyone loves a good grilled cheese. Let’s ditch the American cheese and white bread for an upgraded classic experience.