National Grilled Cheese Month

April 11, 2016 by Kari Karch


When you think of your favorite comfort food, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a juicy, meaty burger with all the fixings, a plate of mom’s homemade pot roast with creamy mashed potatoes, or maybe it’s a extra large slice of fluffy chocolate cake slathered in sugary frosting? Well mine happens to be the classic American grilled cheese. I love them so much that I have experimented with almost every cheese, bread, and topping known to man to create the ultimate grilled cheese.

A simple grilled cheese can satisfy ones most acute cravings for comfort food. Two slices of bread, a piece of cheese, and butter make a ridiculously delicious sandwich that most kids and adults will agree there’s nothing quite like it. Serve that alongside a hot piping bowl of tomato soup with an eye-squinting briny pickle and you have taken flight for culinary heaven.

Here are my favorite grilled cheese recipes that culminate the true meaning of comfort. One incorporates a mash-up of gooey mac and cheese, salty Applewood smoked bacon, and double-sided cheesy bread that makes for one heck of a scrumptious gut-buster. The other is a more refined grilled cheese perfect for a weekend picnic or when you want to show off your culinary skills to some of your favorite table-side guests. Enjoy and happy eating!

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese

4 slices Texas toast white bread
4 slices American or cheddar cheese
Prepared macaroni and cheese (either boxed or scratch-made)
4 slices Applewood smoked bacon, cooked
½ cup butter
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and pour macaroni and cheese into it. Use a spatula to spread evenly and place in your Kenmore fridge until chilled (about 2 hours). Butter one side of the white bread and place the American cheese on the non-buttered side. Then cut a piece of the chilled mac and cheese that is slightly smaller to fit onto bread. Top with 2 slices of bacon (I break mine into smaller pieces) then butter remaining slice and place butter side up on sandwich. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high heat and add 2-3 Tbsp. of parmesan cheese. Place the sandwich on top of the cheese and cook for 2 minutes per side. Before flipping the sandwich, add another handful of parmesan cheese to the skillet then flip the sandwich on top. Cook for 1 more minute then finish in a *450 degree oven for 5-6 minutes or until cheese is completely melted and gooey.

Grown Up Grilled Cheese

4 slices brioche bread
2 Tbsp. arugula pesto (recipe follows)
8 oz. Gruyere cheese, sliced
1 heirloom tomato, sliced
4 strips of thick-cut bacon, cooked
1 avocado, sliced
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper

Arugula Pesto ingredients:
4 cups arugula
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

To make the arugula pesto, place first four ingredients in a food processor and puree till combined. Season with salt and pepper and spread one tablespoon on all four slices of brioche. Heat a Panini press or grill pan to medium high heat. Layer the cheese slices, tomato, bacon, and avocado on 2 slices of the brioche. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place remaining bread on sandwich and grill until cheese melts through, about 3-4 minutes. Serve alongside a small side salad or with tomato soup.

Kari Karch

Kari Karch is a 19-year veteran of the culinary industry, creator of Kiss the Cook, and the head chef and spokesperson for the Kenmore brand. She has made many notable appearances on ABC Morning News, on WGN, on the Cooking Channel and as a judge for the World Food Championships.