A toasted cheese sandwich is a beautiful thing, but I’m not messing about here – this is the ultimate one and it’s going to blow your mind. But there is a particular sequence of events that needs to happen in order to achieve the most ridiculously tasty, chomp-worthy sandwich. Follow this recipe, and it will always make you feel good. It is also especially useful when you’re suffering from a light hangover. This is when the condiments – dolloped onto a side plate like a painter’s palette – really come into their own.
With the No. 1 toasted cheese sarnie we don’t score any points for buying expensive, artisan bread. It’s important to go for something neutral, and in my eyes, only a white bloomer will do. Lightly butter the bread on both sides (oh, and if you’ve got any leftover mashed potato, spread that across one piece of the bread – it’s insanely good). To one piece of bread, add a nice grating of good-quality cheese that melts well, like Cheddar, Red Leicester or a mixture of the two. Place your second piece of bread on top, then cook in a sturdy non-stick frying pan on a medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side. This is important, because if it gets too coloured too quickly you won’t get the gorgeous ooze and melt in the middle, and this is all about encouraging that internal cheese lava flow. As it cooks, I like to rest something flat with a little weight on top to ensure maximum surface area and crunch.
When lightly golden on both sides, lift the toastie out of the pan and grate a little layer of cheese into the pan where it was sitting. Place the toastie back on top and grate some more cheese on the top side. Leave it for just over 1 minute – wait for the cheese to bubble and the fat to spill out of it, then add a little pinch of cayenne pepper. Give the toastie a poke with a fish slice, and once it has a cheesy, doily-like crust on the bottom that moves as one, lift the toastie out of the pan and hold it on the fish slice for 30 seconds so the melted cheese hangs down, sets hard and forms an impressive cheese crown. Flip it onto the other side and once golden, serve, remembering to let it cool for a couple of minutes before attempting to tuck in.
The final debate is what do you want on the side? Tomato ketchup, brown sauce, a shake of Tabasco or hot sauce, mango chutney or a mixture? All are fine choices.