It's safe to say there's no sandwich more perfect than the grilled cheese. But there are a few tips and tricks you've got to nail down to get that crunchy and gooey goodness that will get everyone talking for days to come. And the owner of the renowned Penny's Cheese Shop in Sydney is here to guide you through.
Anyone who says the grilled cheese toastie is not a universally loved and accepted food, doesn't know what they're talking about. It's the ultimate comfort food, perfect for breakups, movie nights at home, to dull down those period cramps or for a 3am snack (because why not).
Penny Lawson, who opened Penny's Cheese Shop in Potts Point, Sydney in 2018, has developed a cult-like following for her cheese toastie (and for good reason). Lucky for us, she's ready to share just the tips you need to take your sandwich game to a whole new level.
Besides barbecue, few foods insight as much impassioned shouting as pizza. Being from the Southern United States, I feel no allegiance to any particular style, which is nice because I can enjoy them all (with pineapple). But pizza is comprised of three main components—crust, sauce, and cheese, and where crust is divisive, cheese can be unifying (maybe even healing?).
Don't bother with fresh bread
Lawson uses sourdough bread for her toasties because the crust gives it a good amount of chew and it's not tough or hard to eat. She also believes using stale bread is better than if it were freshly-baked that day.
"I'm pretty transparent with this — a day old bread is better than fresh bread because it gives you a better crust. It's the perfect way to use bread that you've found at the back of your fridge," Lawson told Lifehacker Australia.
It's all about the cheese
A grilled-cheese is just not the same with only one kind of cheese. You have to mix it up to enhance the flavours of the sandwich and to get the right kind of Instagram-worthy pull.
"You need to have more than one type of cheese in there. So you want cheddar for flavour, you need alpine cheese (gruyere or raclette) for stretch and maybe one of those Italian pasta filata cheeses to round it up. If you mix more than one, you're getting different elements from each."
Lawson, who sometimes uses as many as eight cheeses in her toastie, said it's best to grate the cheese or break it down into small pieces so the cheese can melt better when the sandwich is being grilled.
She uses an off-the-shelf grill in her shop and that's all you really need.
Use more cheese instead of butter, and don't you dare add mayo
There's no such thing as too much cheese and Lawson wholeheartedly agrees.
"I put cheese both inside as well as on the outside. We don't use butter just because adding cheese on the outside makes it cheesier — but butter is still a good option if you want to cut back on the cheese," she said.
But she begs (and we do to) for people to avoid using mayonnaise because it tastes horrible and will ruin your sandwich.
"I've seen that through some people's cheese toastie-making journey and adding mayo is just a big no-no," she said.
Wait until the cheese melts before adding other toppings
According to Lawson, flavouring your cheese toastie with anything like ham, onions, pickles or jalapenos, is perfectly alright as long as you wait until until the cheese is melted on the inside to add in the extra elements.
"You don't want your extra ingredients to steam inside with the cheese. You want the cheese to be hot because then it releases the flavours properly," she explained. "Once the toastie is ready, it's good to sprinkle a bit of salt on the outside for an extra oomph."
But hang on, is it a grilled-cheese toastie or grilled-cheese sandwich?
There's an ongoing debate on the internet that a grilled-cheese sandwich and grilled-cheese toastie are two different things but for others, the two words have morphed to mean the same thing.
"I inter-mix the words all the time. We call ours toasties here but I guess it's really just a grilled-cheese sandwich isn't it?" said Lawson.
I am a proven fan of butter, but I have not been using it to it fullest potential. It’s an obvious toast topper and cooking fat, but it’s also a pretty fantastic (and criminally underrated) sandwich spread.
This article has been updated since its original publication.