words :: Mila Rusimovich // photos :: Paige Harley.
Whether it’s the missionary version of bread, cheese, and butter or something a little more Kama Sutra (like a croque-monsieur) the grilled cheese has been a worldwide classic since the 1930s.
Armed with two types of bread, (a malted whole-grain sliced extra thick, and a crispy crusted olive bread), real Canadian cheddar, and some butter, I lit up the BBQ and set to work.
Dress it up using cranberry sourdough and brie cheese, or kick it old school with Wonder Bread and Kraft Singles. Call it a toastie, like the Aussies, or a jaffle, like the Indonesians—any way you look at it there are few culinary relationships more important than melted cheese and your mouth.
However, what should be an easy meal to cook is often quite a challenge. The right bread, amount of butter, type of cheese and heat level is essential to cooking the perfect sandwich. Personally I consistently fail in the grilled sandwich department, often seeming to suffer the curse of burnt edges and cold cheese.
However, rather than abandon this crowd favourite altogether, I decided instead to ditch the typical cooking mediums. Move over frying pan and toaster oven, enter the BBQ: part badass man-oven, part mean, lean grilling machine. Summertime’s favourite patio oven could be my salvation.
Determined to succeed, I cheated at first and used the nifty flat-top extension on my new BBQ to grill that first sandwich to nothing short of perfection, although it was conspicuously missing grill marks. Torn between cheating (pre-frying on the flat-top and flipping my creations onto the grill at the very end) and being a total badass (cooking them straight-up on the grill like a true cheese master), I decided to laugh in the face of certain failure and go for the title. The first sammy on the whole wheat bread actually turned out quite nicely. Beautiful grill marks, and lots of melted cheese, however still not quite melted all the way through.
For the next sandwich I used the olive bread, which was a total failure—the crispy crust burned and the olives either fell out or burned as well. Back to the whole wheat bread, I grilled three more, all of which I would consider successes. Yes the grill lines were a little darker than desired, but the flame-grilled cheese tasted pretty amazing. No ketchup or tomato-soup-bath necessary.
Nevertheless, being in no denial of the task I was taking on, I quickly enlisted Colin Bush, grilled cheese master from Grilled Fromage in Squamish, to let me in on the tips and tricks of the trade.
Move over frying pan and toaster oven, enter the BBQ: part badass man-oven, part mean, lean grilling machine.
“Use an interesting bread,” he suggested, “and soft cheese like cheddar, or mozzarella. Cut the cheese slices as thin as possible, and then layer to get that super cheesy effect.” And then he ominously wished me good luck.
Overall, the BBQ method was the closest I’ve come to grilled cheese mastery. You need sturdy ingredients and cat-like reflexes but BBQ grilled cheeses are possible. While I’m not sure if my version is BBQ season–ready yet, I do encourage you to try it at home. Aim for low heat (when the BBQ first fires up) and perfect grill placement and the result will be, as the French cheese-lovers say, ” From-idable!”
From ML Coast Mountains.