Cooking With Confidence
No.
Failure, Sandwiches

Sergeant Pepper’s Sandwich Nightmare

by Nick

I can’t believe that I almost forgot about National Grilled Cheese Month! Would you guys trust me ever again if I failed to post a grilled cheese for the entire month?

I hate to admit it, but I was kind of at a loss as to what to make.

Then I got a wonderful email from a reader (Hi Yasmin!) about The Grilled Cheese Academy (WARNING: Has sound). The site features 30 ridiculously delicious looking grilled cheese sandwiches. I couldn’t even pick one so I just went over to Random.org and picked one randomly.

The one I picked? #1. The Sergeant Pepper (Has Sound). I suggest clicking that link so you can see how delicious this sandwich looks. I should’ve known not to trust something that looks that delicious.

You want to see what the sandwich looks like when a real human makes it?!

This sandwich was an absolute disaster. Whoever came up with this had to be high on something (and maybe that’s what warranted The Beatles reference?). The sandwich has bread, two kinds of cheese, sauteed cauliflower, and fried onions.

When I forced Betsy to eat hers she took a big bite (she’s a trooper) and said, “This is just weird.” And that’s pretty much right. It wasn’t exactly bad. It was just really weird.

I think this was one of those cases where, in my opinion, the meal would have been a lot better with its pieces. So definitely make the onion strings, and saute some cauliflower if you choose, and by all means make a grilled cheese with two different kinds of cheese.

But do not. Under any circumstances. Put them all together.

The Onion Strings. I don’t really care to share this whole recipe with you all except I will tell you about the good part which was the onion strings.

Yield
Serves 4.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Spicy Onion Strings

Ingredients

  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup rice flour
  • 1/4 Cup cornstarch
  • 2 Cups seltzer water (if I made this again, I would use beer)
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 quarts oil for cooking

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) Slice onions thinly with a mandoline.

2) Mix batter ingredients together in a large bowl.

3) Heat up frying station and heat oil to 350 degrees.

4) Toss onions with spicy batter and then dip straight in the fryer. Cook for 3-4 minutes until they are very crispy. Work in batches as you fry.

5) Eat immediately!

You can definitely use a sharp knife to try to cut your onions as thin as possible (which I did for my deep fry party last year) or you can pick up a reasonably cheap mandoline and have it do all the work for you.

onion slicing

Use the guard people.

The only thing I will say about this device if you’ve never used one is that it’s pretty dangerous. It’s basically a huge razor set in plastic that you can slide things over very quickly. It comes with a guard which you will be tempted to throw away. Under no circumstances would I recommend using this thing without the guard.

I once saw a dude slice off all of the tips of his fingers in one swipe by not using the guard. So use the guard if you’re going to use one of these creatures.

The good news is that if you can master it, it’ll make short work of a lot of onions.

sliced onions

Beautiful.

The Batter

Once you get your onions sliced you just need to mix up a quick batter for the onions rings. The only thing I’d change about this recipe I think is I’d use a light beer instead of seltzer water if I made it again. Other than that it was pretty tasty.

onion batter

Not bad.

Just whisk together all the batter ingredients and toss in all your onions. You’re looking for lightly coated onions here. They are pretty thin so you don’t want a lot of cakey breading.

in the pool

Everyone in the pool.

Frying the Onions

Heat 4 or 5 inches of oil in a pot to about 350 degrees. I recommend using a neutral oil like Canola oil and also using a Deep fry thermometer so you can control the temperature.

Do these in batches so they don’t all clump together (although they kind of will no matter what) and they should take about 3 to 4 minutes to be cooked. Move them straight to a paper towel to drain. These will be super-crispy and delicious.

onions done

Best part of the meal.

The Nightmare Part

I just want to quickly show you how ridiculous this sandwich was. For starters, I sauteed some cauliflower in butter which was fine and it tasted great just like this.

cauliflower

Tastes great by itself!

But then the recipe instructed me to put pepper jack cheese and the cauliflower on some bread. So far so good.

Cheese and Cauliflower

The next step is when it kind of just got crazy. I piled on the fried onions and then another layer of cheese, this time cheddar.

more stuff

This is wrong.

I cooked it just like a normal grilled cheese, but it was a messy disaster in the pan. It was kind of a disaster on the plate also.

finished sandwich

No thanks.

Just for the sake of being thorough, I’ll grade this monstrosity like I have the other sandwiches in the grilled cheese trials.

Cheesiness: 8. There was a lot of cheese in this sandwich actually. In fact, the sandwich would’ve been better with just the cheese.
Bread: 6. There was so much stuff in this sandwich that the bread couldn’t really hold up to it. And I make some sturdy bread people.
Fillings: 2. I have no words for the strangeness of flavors that these fillings created.
Overall: 4. I can imagine a worse grilled cheese. It was at least cheesy, but this is a pretty prime example of over-thinking a good thing.

In summary, make the onion strings and pass on the sandwich.

As a bonus challenge, if anyone can reproduce the sandwich exactly as it looks on the Grilled Cheese Academy with real food (I have my suspicions about their version…) and send me a photo of it, you would win my un-dying respect.

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18 comments on “Sergeant Pepper’s Sandwich Nightmare

  1. The sandwiches in the cheese academy picture look rather constructed to me, the cheese was melted separately and looks like it cooled somewhat before the other layers were added. On the other hand it sounds like it would be a good sandwich, but I'll take your word and stick with a regular grilled cheese.

    One of our favorites is made with extra-sharp white cheddar (we use Heluva Good brand, but I think Tillamook would be good too, it's just not around where I moved too), a good sprinkle of fresh thyme in with the cheese. Then after it's grilled, a few more leaves of thyme on top and a light sprinkle of kosher salt.

    1. I don't know where you are, but if you have a Sam's club nearby they carry Tillamook. It's really the only reason I keep my membership…that and the huge boxes of TP.

  2. Poor Nick!

    After all that work of shopping, cooking and filming to only end up with something so totally different from the original recipe.

    Sadly, on some web sites, what you see is NOT always what you get. The tricks of food photography can be pretty jaw dropping and totally unappetizing. I give you a lot of credit for posting both the good and the bad!

    Cheers,

    Kathy

  3. I have LOVED grilled cheese sandwiches since I was a little girl, and they don't need much more than good bread, fabulous cheese and butter:) Heroic efforts on your attempt!

    Funny, I just gave a nod to The Beatles on my recent food post too:)

  4. The Grilled Cheese Academy's version looks like it was put into a panini press, not exactly "grilled". Perhaps the press is how they got that overall appearance? Altho' I have to admit that I'd never seen a REAL panini look that neat, either (even those constructed at Panera Bread!)!!!

    1. Doh! Sorry… I totally didn't have my speakers on when I was writing this. Post updated…

      Also, add that to the list of reasons why I don't love the Grilled Cheese Academy. I don't know why they feel the need to have a weird voiceover for every sandwich…

  5. All strangeness aside (and BTW, I'd have been intrigued by that combo, too), I wanted to pipe up and say how great I think it is that you posted about a failed cooking experience. So many people who *don't* cook get the impression that everything has to come out perfectly every time. And the fact is, some days you're a winner, and some days you're not. Like the barley soup I once made that my husband referred to as "bad jailhouse slop."

  6. Sorry to hear that your experience with the Grilled Cheese Academy was not so great. I do agree that it would be almost impossible to get a homemade sandwich to look as great as the sandwiches on the site. They are just so perfect, maybe even too perfect. Better luck next time!

    However, I did create The Athena and The Benedict and had some good luck. The Benedict is simple and one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I have had in awhile. I would definitely recommend trying it. Great flavors. Also, I know you like olives so you might enjoy The Athena as well. I have a write-up about it on my site.

  7. You are so right about the Grilled Cheese Academy, but one thing I did like “the onions”.

    The good & the bad…love it!

    Can’t wait to make them…

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