It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving happened over a week ago. Whoosh! All the planning and prepping, all the cooking, all the nose wiping, and all of the dishes. We’ve been back home since Saturday, still wiping noses, but only our own and not the wee ones’, marveling at the quiet, and the amount of time between meals. In the empty nest there is actually time to think. Our Thanksgiving with extended family meant crowd control and guerrilla cookery. Never make one sandwich when you could make six.
I’ve read that when you rejoin your family for holiday events, you revert to your former household role and position. I forgot that I was Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. That I ran the kitchen, and doled out food, sandwiches, snacks, advice and admonitions. I’ve gotten used to a more laissez affaire approach, and feeling like things will all come together naturally, over time. Naturally, that cannot be true when an eight-year-old and his two-year-old co-conspirator are tearing through the house. And meals are never leisurely, but necessary fuel replacement. Zero to sixty, and suddenly the tanks are empty, and the drivers are cranky. And insistent.
Luckily, I also read about making grilled cheese sandwiches on a sheet pan. We can all make a lovely, perfectly browned grilled cheese given all the time in the world. Maybe even a warm, oozy Croque Monsieur, with a side salad and a glass of crisp white wine. No. Not at Thanksgiving. Give up those fairy tale dreams. We are back to carrot sticks, Goldfish and glasses of watered-down apple juice. We are back in the trenches.
Cooking grilled cheese sandwiches on a sheet pan means you are not hovering over the stove, twirling and melting butter, constantly lifting a corner of the bread, checking the degree of browning. It’s easier to make a more consistent sandwich in a sheet pan. And what a genius it was who thought of melting butter ahead of time? It does deprive you of the cheap thrill of tossing a butter pat into a hot pan, and getting a satisfying sizzle, but it also spares you doing this over and over again, and sometimes scorching the butter with inadvertent neglect.
Sheet Pan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
You do the math. I am planning on 6 sandwiches.
(If anyone wants seconds, I will toss them the bag of Goldfish.)
Preheat the oven to 400°F
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (there are arguments that you will get a crisper sandwich without the parchment, but those folks obviously don’t wash the sheet pans)
• You will need 12 pieces of bread. (I prefer Pepperidge Farm white. My Thanksgiving audience is used to Dave’s Killer Bread. Tough. I went to the grocery store.)
• 1/2 stick of melted butter
• 12 slices of cheese or 6 slices of cheese and a cup of coarsely grated cheddar
• Use a basting brush to lightly coat 1 side of 6 pieces of bread with butter. Place butter side down on the parchment paper.
• Add cheese – layer 1 slice per piece of bread, add a small handful of cheddar, top with another cheese slice
• Top with bread slices that have been brushed lightly with melted butter – butter side up
Pop the tray into the 400°F oven for about 6 to 8 minutes. Check to see the degree of brown-ness. Flip sandwiches, and wait about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice on the diagonal, and serve warm. Add tomato soup, if you want to create an indelible childhood memory for Florida children who have probably never had hot soup, let alone one that is not organic.
You can add what you usually do to make the sandwiches fancier: tomato slices, bacon, grated Parmesan. While it is easy to cook two grilled cheeses at a time in a frying pan, six can become problematic.
Here is a nice variation with pimento cheese: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sheet-pan-grilled-cheese-sandwiches-11768305
And every possible permutation: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/easy/g1265/grilled-cheese-appetizers/?
“Go on, have a pasty,” said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry’s pasties, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches lay forgotten).”
― J.K. Rowling