Happiness is Grilled Cheese


Article by Brian Bailey

Photography by Terry Fravel

Originally published in Canton Lifestyle

There is no better canvas for flavor than two pieces of sliced bread. The humble grilled cheese sandwich has come a long way from the depression-era processed-cheese-on -Wonder-Bread working-man’s staple. Restaurant chef’s and amateur foodies have ignited a resurgence of this childhood classic using imported cheeses, creative ingredients, and sophisticated flavor profiles.

While we were developing the first Smoke the Burger Joint menu, it seemed sinful to not utilize our array of creative burger toppings, including great melting cheeses, in a second menu category that only added loaves of bread to the inventory. Cross utilization is what we call that! And Grilled Cheese Sandwiches were also an answer to the proverbial “no vote” that would keep a group from dining with us when one person “is not in the mood for a burger."

Now there are many fans that dine at Smoke the Burger Joint only for grilled cheese sandwiches, paired with Tomato Basil Bisque. Three great sandwiches are featured with “recipes” here. Step by Step grilling instructions are not included as I assume even the most basic cook has that part down.

One professional tip is to try spreading mayonnaise on the outside of the bread instead of butter. Mayonnaise has a higher smoke point, which means your grilled cheese lunch is more foolproof. You can cook the sandwich over (slightly) higher heat for a crisper exterior and fluffier interior.

Enjoy cooking these at home or visit soon at Smoke the Burger Joint, located at 4472 Belden Village Street. Order online at smoketheburgerjoint.com.

Wisconsin Big Cheesy

2 slices Sourdough bread

2 slices American Cheese

1 slice Cheddar Cheese

1 slice Pepper Jack Cheese

Mayo (or Butter)

The Wisconsin Big Cheesy has been the go-to grilled cheese at home for my youngest daughter, Allyson. A mild Cheddar won’t be too oily, the Pepper Jack will add just a slight bit of heat and interest while the double slices of American will melt everything together into a puddle of deliciousness.

Windy City Havarti Honey & Bacon

2 slices of Sourdough bread (or your favorite Artisan variety)

2 x 1.5 oz slices Havarti

1 x 2 oz slice Swiss Cheese

1 Tbs Feta Cheese

1 Tbs crumbled Bacon

Spinach, chopped or cut into strips

Drizzle of Honey

Mayo (or Butter)

Guests often ask why this sandwich is named after the Windy City. Well, Chicago is the hometown of the famous person that inspired us to create it. No. It’s not that guy. Think more famous than a former President.

A dozen years back, Oprah Winfrey shared that the secret ingredient to her favorite grilled cheese sandwich was honey. And if I remember correctly, that sandwich was made using Fontina, Mozzarella & Harvarti cheese with tomato, basil and honey. (There’s another recipe to try!)

Havarti regularly finds it way on lists of “Ultimate Cheeses for Grilled Cheese” because it is a firm, mild cheese that has a sweet and buttery flavor that melts likes, well, you know. Aged varieties are saltier and can taste like Hazlenut. Be sure to use a high-quality Swiss, as lower grades can get a little oily.

Spinach and Feta is a classic flavor pair that is given room to shine above the mild Havarti & Swiss. Add to that the contrasting flavors of salty bacon with sweet honey and you’ve achieved the chef’s goal of building layers of flavor.

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

8 oz softened Cream Cheese

1 cup shredded Cheddar

1 cup shredded chicken

¼ cup Ranch Dressing

¼ cup Buffalo Wing Sauce

8 slices Sourdough bread (yields 4 sandwiches)

Mayo (or Butter)

What do you do when you run out of tortilla chips before halftime of the football game and you still have a good bit of Buffalo Chicken dip left? You toast some crostinis for dipping and quickly fantasize how good of a Grilled Cheese sandwich that would make! And, if you own a restaurant, like I do, you have it on your menu within 2 weeks.

And that’s how The Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich was born.

After combining the first five ingredients, I heat the cheese dip before spreading between the buttered bread for grilling.

“There is no better canvas for flavor than two pieces of sliced bread.”

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