The Cheese Crunch
Here’s an amazing feature of cheese that doesn’t get enough coverage: When it gets hot, it melts. But if you keep heating it up, it eventually gets crunchy.
It’s not burned, it’s just right.
A lot of fancy restaurants will bake Parmesan and make little Parm crackers that they use to top salads. When The Cheese Crunch won the poll last week, I knew I wanted to try to somehow incorporate that technique into a standard grilled cheese.
Not only did it work, but it freakin‘ worked!
The Cheese Crunch
Yield: 1 sandwich
1) Grate cheeses and use a microplane to great Parmesan very fine.
2) Lightly butter two pieces of bread.
3) Add one piece of bread butter side down to a nonstick pan. Top with grated cheddar cheese. Top with second piece of bread, butter side up.
4) Cook over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes per side until bread is browned and cheese is almost melted.
5) Remove from heat. Very lightly butter each side of the sandwich again and top with two tablespoons of grated Parmesan.
6) Add pan back to heat and cook for another 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat to melt and brown the parmesan cheese, making it crispy.
7) Once cheddar cheese is melted completely and parm is browned and crispy, remove sandwich and serve immediately!
Grilled Cheese Basics
I’m a big fan of the grilled cheese. It’s quick to make, you almost certainly have everything you need for it in your fridge, and it’s just plain delicious.
I still make them for lunch regularly, but also Betsy and I will have them for dinner occasionally with soup.
While you can get super-fancy with fillings, all you really need is butter, bread, and cheese!
The tricky part about grilled cheese is making sure your cheese is melted while making sure that your bread isn’t burned.
To make it a bit easier to melt the cheese, I recommend grating it instead of just slicing it. It will melt in about half the time if you grate it.
For the basic grilled cheese, lightly butter each piece of bread. Place the bread down in a nice nonstick pan and then top with cheese and follow it with the second piece of bread.
Cook this sucker on medium heat for about 4 minutes per side.
That should give you a nice melted center and perfectly toasted bread.
Don’t get in a hurry and cook it over high heat or your bread will toast way before your cheese is melted.
It’s a fine balance, but one that you can do.
Getting the CRUNCH
So here is the fun step that I wasn’t sure would work.
When your sandwich is done or almost done, give it a very light coat of butter again. When I say light, I mean as light as you can butter something. You just want to make sure the cheese can stick to the bread.
Then cover the bread entirely with grated Parmesan cheese.
It’s really important to use a hard cheese for this step. Something like romano or parmesan works best.
Then you flip the sandwich over so the parmesan is in direct contact with the hot pan.
At this point crank up the heat and cook the sandwich for about two minutes.
While the sandwich cooks one the first side, add the same amount of Parmesan to the top of the sandwich.
Flip it and cook it for another minute or two on the second side.
Because of the high heat and nonstick pan, the Parmesan will melt, stick to the bread, and then immediately start to get really crispy.
It’s really a thing of beauty.
Slice it. Serve it. Eat it!
For a sandwich with four ingredients, this one is pretty hard to beat.
This sucker was super-fun to make and even more fun to eat!
Spread the word. The Cheese Crunch is a thing.