by Blake Stilwell
April is closing fast. This means we have the May flowers to look forward to, but it also means we have to say goodbye to a celebration that foodies around the country know very well: Grilled Cheese Month. GCM is a celebration of a simple staple, the original fast food. It sticks to your ribs and “warms your inners” (as my mama used to say) on a cold day’s lunchtime. Personally, one of my favorite meals is a grilled cheese with tomato soup. Though I am a professed classicist, preferring American on white to Katrina‘s throw anything on a cheese sandwich mentality (not to mention being lactose intolerant), I will throw down on a Gruyère and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese from time to time… It’s just that good.
In recognition of the glory of the sandwich that won the war, the As Eaten recipe this week is a snack sammy from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Grilled Charlie. In episode two of season two, The Gang Goes Jihad, Charlie (Charlie Day) has to correct Frank (Danny DeVito) as he tries to make a Grilled Charlie on their apartment’s hotplate. I wanted to upload a clip here, but FOX is very stingy with its content on YouTube, so instead of my 25 second clip, you can watch the entire episode online for free here.
In the episode, Charlie says the ingredients, the order, and the recipe: Peanut butter outside. Chocolate inside. Butter inside. Cheese outside. Which is simple enough, but putting it together into a cohesive sandwich is the trickier part.
– 2 slices of store-bought white bread
– 1 slice of american cheese
– chocolate syrup
– peanut butter
– actual butter… considering Charlie’s socio-economic status, it’s much more likely his “butter” is actually margarine.
It sounds awkward to put together. It kinda is. The order of operations takes patience and finesse. Especially patience, which, if you can’t make a grilled cheese without burning it, is the number one reason you can’t: you have no patience (No grilled cheese was ever successfully made with the fire up all the way. I don’t care what you tell yourself, salvageable is not successful).
The first step is to set yourself up for success. Set the fire to medium, prep your breads. Remember the order. Peanut butter goes on the outside, so save it for last.
To preserve the integrity of the sandwich and the bread, I’m telling you to grill the butter side out first, but only until its a nice golden brown, with the cheese on the bread. This will get the cheese ready for its turn on the outside (and add a little butter to the pan) and help the bread hold the soggy chocolate. Once its flipped, add the bread with the chocolate sauce. Don’t add the peanut butter til last! And not for a minute or so, either. Give the cheese time to get grilled, otherwise it’ll stick to the pan even with the butter.
Once everything else is in place add the peanut butter. It might be good to grill… toasted peanut butter is tasty, but Charlie probably meant the peanut butter to be more of a topping. Warning: this sandwich is more than the store-bought bread can handle. It falls apart very easily.
This wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. It was a flavor explosion, that’s for sure. With a little reworking, no chocolate syrup, all ingredients inside, it might have potential… but it just wouldn’t be a Grilled Charlie, would it? This meal, however, is an excellent preparatory meal for a rousing game of Chardee MacDennis.