Cooking Corner: Gourmet Grilled cheese improves college staple

The grilled cheese sandwich has long been a staple of the student diet. It is simple to prepare and tastes great. For many people, the grilled cheese stops at two slices of white bread and a piece of American cheese, but with just a few modifications, anyone can turn a grilled cheese into a gourmet sandwich. Using this recipe, students can impress themselves and their friends by making the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich.

It all starts with the bread. Choose a dense, firm bread such as a sourdough or Tuscan style loaf. These varieties stand up well to the heat of the pan and do not lose their shape when pressed.

Next, add the cheese. This recipe uses three kinds – sharp Cheddar for taste, Provolone for creaminess, and Parmesan on the outside for crunch. Getting the Parmesan to stick takes a special ingredient — butter. No other spreads have the same taste or help the bread toast as well as butter.

The final addition is meat. Adding a slice or two of ham or turkey, combined with the other ingredients, is what truly makes this grilled cheese gourmet. Here are the instructions.

One slice Provolone cheese
2 tsp. fresh grated or packaged Parmesan cheese
3/4 oz. grated or sliced sharp Cheddar cheese
Two slices Tuscan or sourdough bread
One or two thin slices of ham or turkey

Begin by grating or slicing the cheese as necessary. Allow the butter to soften before thinly coating one side of each of the two pieces of bread.

Place the Parmesan cheese on a small plate and spread it in a thin layer. Take each piece of bread and gently press the buttered side down into the Parmesan cheese. Set aside the pieces of bread, making sure the cheese and butter side is up.

Warm a pan on medium high heat until water drops scatter when dropped on the hot surface. Carefully lay each piece of bread cheese side down on the pan. Press firmly with the spatula and allow the bread to sit so that the Parmesan on the outside forms a crust.

Add the cheddar and provolone to the bread sides now facing up. When these cheeses begin to turn translucent, turn the heat down to medium and add ham or turkey to the provolone side.

Close the sandwich by flipping one side onto the other. The Parmesan should be a dark golden brown. Finish by pressing the sandwich with the spatula and flipping it to ensure both sides are evenly done.

Remove the sandwich from the pan with the spatula. Cut in half and serve with chips and a pickle.

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