It’s not everyday when respected industry professionals repeatedly use the term “gooey-factor” with a straight-face, but Chef Instructor James Briscione did just that during an evening of cheesy delight when he taught the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches class here at ICE. Based off of his experience helping construct the Murray’s Melts menu at the famous Murray’s Cheese, Chef James lead us through the making of 10 different sandwiches all with different themes, such as The Southerner, which included Chef James’s FAMOUS pimento cheese; The Thanksgiving; and The Perfect Pear, a dessert sandwich that featured poached pears and mascarpone on brioche. YUM.

While grilled cheese is a staple of most people’s childhood, the perfect balance of melted cheese, crunchy bread and hearty fillings is not as easy to achieve as one might think. Here’s some great tips to help you make the greatest grilled cheese at home!

* Regionalize: As with most cooking, often your best bet is to follow mother nature. Pair up ingredients (including vegetables and cheeses) that come from the same area of the world. Stick with this and you’re pretty much guaranteed the flavors will compliment each other.

* Mind the Salt: One of the trickiest things about dealing with cheese is that you have to find things that will compliment the flavors without adding too much more salt. For example, using Serrano ham instead of prosciutto gives a spicy kick rather than the taste of straight salt.

* Gooey-Factor!: There are a couple of tricks to get the perfect gooeyness to your sandwich. Put something spreadable on the bread (some sort of soft cheese, mayo, etc.) and make sure to put cheese on either side of the fillings so that when it melts the cheese will bind all the ingredients together.

* Less is More: As Chef James says, “a great grilled cheese is dependent on the perfect balance of gooey to bready.” Be careful not to over-do it on the fillings — remember the cheese is the star in this meal! Your filling-to-cheese ratio should allow for the flavors to enhance each other, rather than overpower.

This class was the perfect reminder that sometimes becoming a great cook isn’t about learning every new trick and technique, but rather working on perfecting the basics. And of course a healthy appreciation of the “gooey factor.”

Would you like to master the art of the sandwich? Check out the recreational classes coming up at ICE!

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