American cheese is such an odd thing. Depending on your source, it’s either a blend of colby and cheddar cheeses, or a frightfully described concoction that is required by law to be labeled “processed.” Ick, right?
The cheese snob in me avoided American cheese for years. If I wanted something melty, I turned to fontina. Melty with flavor, havarti.
I made grilled cheese sandwiches and paninis with sharp cheddar (and now and again with smoked gouda). Super yummy in theory, but … something was missing. Just not right. They were not the grilled cheese of my youth (and mom totally rocked the grilled cheese).
I researched high and low, using techniques from Alton Brown (whose secret is to grate the cheese for perfect meltability) to Cooks Illustrated to random (and sometimes downright strange) tips from the interwebs.
It drove me mad. What was the secret? White bread, sourdough, French bread: it didn’t matter. Each lent their own texture and yeasty goodness, but none were the problem.
I used tons of cheese, mounds of cheese. A mere whispery thin slice of cheese.
Buttered the bread on one side, on both sides (eh?), painted on perfectly temperature-gauged melted butter with tender loving care. Grilled the sandwiches on high. On low. Medium. Medium-low. Griddle pan, frying pan, cast iron, open flame, baked-in-the-oven.
Nada. Zip. Zilch. Bupkis. Failure.
Not the same.
(I had to google the spelling of “bupkis,” by the way, as it’s one of those words that I’ve heard and said hundreds of times over … but have never seen in print until today.)
Finally, I relented. Cringing all the way, I picked up a pack of American cheese and flung it in my cart as though I had just been sneezed on.
And went home and grilled up some sandwiches.
Success. Success at the hands of American cheese.
Oh, the foodie shame.
But, I’m not one to let pride stand in the way of a great sandwich, and with my foundational grilled cheese perfected, experimentation was mine … all mine.
And that’s how we have today’s breakfast grilled cheese sandwich: the perfect grilled cheese topped with eggs and sausage.
It’s not your typical eggs-sausage-and-cheese morning eye-opener on a day-old English muffin. No. It’s grilled cheese, people. Grilled cheese for breakfast.
You put an egg on anything, and suddenly it’s totally suitable for breakfast.
And lunch. And dinner. Comfort food, thou art ooey gooey grilled cheese with eggs and sausage.
- 8 slices bread (English toasting bread is particularly lovely)
- butter, for spreading
- 8 slices American cheese
- 1 link sweet Italian sausage (pork, chicken or veggie substitute), removed from casing and crumbled
- 2 tablespoons diced onion
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon cream or milk (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat a large grill pan or griddle over medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. When the griddle is hot, lay the bread slices buttered side up and toast until just lightly browned. Flip the slices so they're buttered side down. Immediately lay one slice of cheese on each slice of warmed bread. Let the bread grill while you work on the sausage. When the cheese begins to melt, turn down the heat to medium-low so that the bread doesn't burn.
- Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and onions, and saute until the sausage is completely cooked through. Whisk the eggs, adding cream or milk (if using), then pour into the pan with the sausage. Turn heat to medium-low. Use a spatula to move the eggs around the pan, gently mixing in the sausage and onions while making sure the eggs are scrambling and not sticking to the pan. Season with a big pinch of salt and pepper.
- Divide the eggs and sausage mix into 4 servings, and transfer each serving to a slice of bread. Top the eggs and sausage with a slice of bread (cheese side down) to create four sandwiches, and press gently with a spatula to help the melted cheese glue the sandwich together. Check the underside of the sandwich to make sure it's nicely golden and toasted.
- Serve immediately. Try to restrain yourself from making more. Or don't. It's comfort food season, people.