In Defense of American Cheese
It’s best to admit when you are wrong. I went through a phase where I looked down on American cheese. I think this is because, for a large part of my childhood, I didn’t really know there was other kinds of cheese. Most cheese was American cheese and it came wrapped in thin plastic.
Of course, as I grew up I learned that there are many different kinds of cheese and, in fact, some people don’t even consider American cheese to be cheese. So, as I was learning about new delicious cheeses, I came to hate plain old American cheese.
You can call it cheap or fake or whatever you want to call it, but the truth is that American cheese is hard to beat for certain applications. Sure, there might be some $20/pound cheese that beats it, but realistically it’s hard to beat!
Here’s how I learned to love this thing called American cheese!
What is American Cheese?
Let’s get this out of the way. American cheese is processed cheese. It has to be labeled as such, in fact. It can be made from mixing a lot of different cheeses together and that can result in a different quality of American cheese depending on who is making it. (I think Boar’s Head makes a pretty good one that’s available in most places.)
Most American cheeses though are known for being fairly bland in flavor, but they all have a very low melting point.
How to Buy American Cheese
The single biggest thing you can do to become an American cheese fan is stop buying it in pre-packaged singles and start buying it from your deli.
It’ll be there, way in the back, or you may have to ask for it.
Get them to slice it fairly thick for you. I like to say “nickel thick” which gets the idea across just fine. This thickness is pretty much perfect for anything you’ll be using American cheese to make.
Comparing the Difference
Let’s just take a minute to compare the difference between a deli slice of American cheese and a pre-packaged slice of american cheese. It’s not even close.
If all you can find is the slices, then I recommend doubling them up to get close to the same thickness. It won’t have quite the same flavor though.
Three Reasons American Cheese Is Great
Quick Breakfast Sandwiches
If you’re in a hurry and need a quick breakfast sandwich, American cheese is your friend. Check out my coffee mug breakfast sandwich, for example. It melts perfectly in the microwave in just a few seconds and you’re on your way out the door!
A Great Grilled Cheese
I’ve made dozens of grilled cheeses over the years and I’m known to use fancy cheeses on occasion. If what you care about though is that perfect melty cheese, it’s hard to beat American cheese.
It melts quickly so you don’t have to worry so much about burning the bread before it’s melted. It’s a gooey, delicious treat.
The Only Cheeseburger Cheese
Again, fancy cheeses are fine, but if you’re talking about a good, simple cheeseburger then you need American cheese. I like to make smaller patties (about 2 oz. each) and make them really thin. Sear them in a skillet and top them with slices.
Stick the whole thing on a toasted bun and you’re in cheeseburger heaven.
Granted, American cheese isn’t something I would stick on a cheese plate with crackers, but if you are looking for something that will melt easily, it doesn’t get much better!
Alright, I’ve put my position out there. Any other American cheese lovers with me on this one?!