It's a question that has stalked man through the generations: How many slices of cheese go into a properly made grilled cheese? I am here today to tell you I have solved this riddle once and for all.
My methods met the highest standards of scientific rigor: I made two grilled cheese sandwiches, one with a single slice of cheese, the other with two slices. They shared a wide pan and were made with great care. I did not have tomato soup to pair with my grilled cheese sandwiches, but I had a bottle of Salsa Picante, which in this case was roughly the same color as Campbell's tomato soup (brick red).
The sandwiches were cut on the diagonal, as is customary.
Sandwich One: Single Cheese Slice
Visual Inspection: Sandwich One shows even browning across both surface bread planes, with slight charring along the left and top crusts of the bottom plane. Minimal oozage along the hypotenuse. Slight sag along the hypotenuse; not more than 15 degrees.
Texture/Structure: Sandwich One displays ideal crunch along the crusts and pleasing waffle-like textural complexity along the hypotenuse, with a slight surface crunch yielding a soft, butter-soaked interior. Sandwich One is pleasantly thin and lightweight despite a frankly alarming abundance of melted dairy product.
Taste: Sandwich One is rich, salty, and savory, with a commendable (if unintended) lingering carbon accent from the slight charring of the outermost perimeter of the bread planes. The bread itself, a sturdy but in all other ways unremarkable generic-brand sliced white, is represented by a subtle, happy cereal undertone that compliments the creamy, salty richness of the yellow American cheese. Ideal balance between butter, cheese, soft bread, and toasted bread is observed.
Sandwich Two: Two Cheese Slices
Visual Inspection: Sandwich Two presents more evenly browned bread planes all the way to the edges, due to a long-unresolved tilt in the goddamn electric cooking eye from fucking nineteen-seventy-whatever-the-hell. Said tilt in this instance benefited Sandwich Two due to its alignment in the pan. A light golden browning from edge to edge across both bread planes. Noticeable oozage along the hypotenuse. Significant sag along the hypotenuse; as much as 25 degrees. Ideal outer color aside, Sandwich Two appears somewhat sloppy, especially during the transit from plate to face.
Texture/Structure: Sandwich Two is firm and crunchy at the right angle and reaches peak textural diversity at the outer 45-degree angles, displaying the sought-after ratio of outer crunch to soft interior. Along the hypotenuse, where the sag is most pronounced, Sandwich Two's crunch is largely overwhelmed by yellow cheese ooze and dairy-fat-soaked bread. Sandwich Two is thin, but its payload of cheese adds unexpected weight. Sandwich Two seems bulky—wet, even—with melted dairy.
Taste: The first bite of Sandwich Two is decadent: aggressively salty and overwhelmingly creamy, with an assertive, impressive, and welcome richness. Upon subsequent bites, however, Sandwich Two's heavy burden of melted cheese dominates the senses. Gone is the nuanced wheat flavor of toasted bread, completely overwhelmed by the oozing yellow interior. The butter flavor, meant to mellow and accent the saltiness of the cheese, in the case of Sandwich Two is too much, an excessive sheen of fat on an already startlingly fatty composition.
Unexpectedly, but decisively, Sandwich One dominated the contest across the most important points of comparison: texture and taste. The single-slice grilled cheese sandwich requires of the grilled-cheese chef a modicum of restraint and forethought, but this maturity, this bravery in the face of temptation rewards the chef with a balanced, light, crunchy, delicious sandwich worthy of a dunk in tomato soup, to say nothing of salsa picante. The naive, inexperienced chef may view Sandwich Two as a call to shepherd the cheese, to confront it and tame it and wield it as a great weapon against hunger, but our results show definitively that no such control over the cheese is possible, and any attempts at such will only bring about the ruination of the grilled cheese sandwich and the dissatisfaction and humiliation of the chef.
Make your grilled cheese sandwiches with a single slice of cheese.
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