I mean really, is there anything better than a grilled cheese sandwich? I don’t think there is. The unpretentious grilled cheese CAN be fancy enough for a dinner party if you provide the right fixin’s – and the cooking method ensures you’ll have eight crispy, melty sandwiches ready at EXACTLY the same moment.
If a food or beverage is supposed to be hot, I need it piping. I reheat my coffee at least fifteen times every morning, and drink my occasional to-go Starbucks in about seven seconds – usually before my husband was able to take his first sip. Likewise, when entertaining I like to serve hot food and have been known to snap at my friends (with a smile) for lallygagging to the table. I loved the idea of a grilled cheese bar but didn’t want some diners to have hot sandwiches while others had room-temperature ones.
America’s Test Kitchen to the rescue, per usual. They created a way to “grill” eight sandwiches at once. By combining their genius methodology with a plethora of classy ingredients (and some not so classy, like the potato chips), I had a fun and novel dinner party challenge!
The prep for this dinner was easier than others – case and point my husband and I watched an episode of Parenthood on Netflix during my daughters nap. It’s a great show, but I’d watch anything with Loralie Gilmore in it. You can pick and choose from any of the options I used, or come up with your own. Serve with soup or salad to complete the meal.
Also, I should say, this was a hit! Everyone was excited to create their own sandwich and when people are involved with their dinner, they tend to enjoy it more. There was lots of crunching followed by lots of “no my sandwich is better”. Scroll to the bottom for some combo ideas.
Grilled Cheese Bar
Method from America’s Test Kitchen
Makes 8 Sandwiches
16 large slices of bread (I recommend slicing from a loaf of Italian or French bread)
1 stick salted butter, softened
6 c. (total) grated cheese (or sliced if you prefer)*
*Cheeses, if sliced – 1/3 lb Colby Jack, 1/3 lb Cheddar, 1/3 lb Havarti
8 sliced bacon, 1/3 lb honey ham, 1/2 lb roasted turkey
Dijon mustard, horseradish or chipotle mayo, whole-berry cranberry sauce, salsa
Thinly sliced apple, sliced tomato, kettle-cooked potato chips, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place two heavy cookie sheets on different racks in oven.
2. Label a large sheet of parchment paper with names of guests around the outside.
3. Butter outside of bread slices well with softened butter. Invite guests to create sandwiches or take orders and do it yourself. Tip – make sure there is cheese next to the bread or that you sandwich the “fillings” between cheese layers. This will help the sandwich adhere.
3. Place sandwiches on parchment by corresponding names.
4. Take one cookie sheet out of oven and slide parchment onto it. Take second cookie sheet out and place directly on top of sandwiches. Return to oven.
5. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread has started to brown.
6. Remove top sheet and serve.
Havarti, Turkey, Caramelized Onion, Cranberry, Dijon
Colby Jack, Turkey, Tomato, Salsa
Cheddar, Bacon, apple
Cheddar, caramelized onion, potato chips
Havarti, horseradish mayo, apple