Since I started this blog there have been numerous posts in which I’ve eulogised about how versatile cheese is, and we all know that it can be a key component of a wide range of different meals. Pasta dishes, pizzas, salads, risottos. Even soups.
However, there’s one particular culinary creation that never seems to get a look-in when people talk about their favourite cheese-based dishes – yet one which any right-thinking person will hold close to their heart as one of the ultimate comfort foods.
Yes, I refer to the simple wonders of cheese on toast.
Cheese on toast is such a brilliant thing that the Welsh have even claimed it as a sort of national dish.
What’s more, it’s even been eulogised in song. In 2004, English indie rock band the Charlatans released a song called ‘Bona Fide Treasure’. It was a song about a girl, as a lot of good songs are – and the lyrics paid tribute to the girl in question in the form of a joyous chorus of “You’re the queen of the crop, you’re the cheese on the top of my toast.”
A few years before that meanwhile, another English group called KWS enjoyed ‘one hit wonder’ status thanks to the success of a song called ‘Please Don’t Go’ – although when hearing the track on the radio, a whole generation of music fans would invariably sing “Cheese on toast!” instead of ‘Please Don’t Go’.
Or was that just me?
Much like beer and coffee, cheese on toast has even been gentrified in recent years, with the rise in popularity of what are usually billed by hipster eateries as ‘grilled cheese sandwiches’. These creations will probably have fancy stuff lobbed into the mix like fire-roasted red peppers or maybe a balsamic glaze. But ultimately, it’s still cheese on toast.
Of course, one of most intriguing things about cheese on toast is that it’s one of those things where everyone seems to have their own way of making it. Some use sliced cheese, others grated. Some will incorporate sauce, others won’t. I even have a friend who always makes a point of using two different types of cheese, usually Cheddar and Red Leicester, laying alternate slices on the toast to create a pleasing two-tone stripe affect.
In terms of my own personal method, I like to keep things fairly simply. I generally use whatever bread we happen to have in the house – usually thick and white – and start off by toasting it in the toaster.
I then butter the toast, whack thin slices of whatever cheese I decide to use on top – usually a mature Cheddar, or a fiery Mexicana if I’m feeling particularly adventurous. I find that the cheese tends to melt best if it’s been out of the fridge for a couple of hours – although that’s not always possible, as when you decide to make cheese on toast I think it’s fair to say that it’s generally a decision that you make spontaneously, rather than planning it ages in advance.
Anyway, next part of the process is of course melting the cheese – and I usually do this by shoving the buttered toast with cheese on top in the microwave and carefully watching it and whipping it out as soon as the correct amount of meltiness has been achieved.
Now my decision to use the microwave rather than the grill has caused raised eyebrows on more than one occasion. In my defence though, cheese on toast is something that I make more often than not as a snack for my kids – and when you have children hovering around you mithering you about how hungry they are, sometimes speed is of the essence!
So there we go, that’s how I do it. I’m not saying that my way is the best or anything like that, but it works for me.
As I said though, cheese on toast is a snack that everyone seems to have their own take on – and this being so, I thought it’d be interesting to take to social media and do a bit of a ‘voxpop’ to find out some other people’s methods. I duly posed the question on both Facebook and Twitter – and while a number of individuals were very reluctant, guarding their method with the zeal of KFC and the Colonel’s secret recipe, a fair few folk were willing to share their secrets.
Here then, without further a do are a further 11 different ways to make cheese on toast…
Richard: A thin layer of brown sauce should be applied before the cheese (sliced not grated). Grill until just showing signs of turning golden. Any bread will do.
Denzil: Always add a touch of Worcestershire sauce and finish with chopped chives.
Brad: Slightly grill the bread first. Then butter, then add cheese (sliced, strong mature Cheddar). Top with thinly sliced tomatoes and return to grill until browned.
Aisa: We used to eat an Indian version: slightly toasted bread, thick Cheddar cheese and spicy Pattaks pickle on the top.
Barbara: Half toasted with strong cheese, and add a swirl of Marmite.
Kris: Has to be brown bread, slightly toasted first, then butter before the cheese. The cheese must be mature or extra mature Cheddar (none of that useless excuse for cheese like mild Cheddar or ‘Girlydale’), and sliced NOT grated, with black pepper and a few drops of Worcester sauce. It then needs to be grilled, and taken out when on the verge of burning. I managed to teach my French wife how to make proper cheese on toast and she is converted to be a big fan. She even now rates Cheddar as one of her favourite cheeses.
Stephen: I’ll go with Richard’s brown sauce approach, and I also throw in a few bits of chopped ham under the cheese.
Becky: Grill one side of the bread. Put Cathedral City on the uncooked side (sliced no more than 5mm thick, not grated). Arrange the cheese on the bread so there are no gaps, but also no overlaps. Then lightly splash with Lee and Perrin’s, trying not to get any on the bare bread. Grill until the cheese starts to bubble.
John: Mustard spread on the toast before melting the cheese on top. Boom!
Chris: Sometimes I put a thin layer of tomato puree across the toast, then melt the cheese and sprinkle oregano over the top. This gives me a kind of Italian pizza cheese on toast which is then topped off with a dash of Tabasco. It has to be known as ‘Italian rarebit’.
Simon: I usually add Tabasco and Worcester sauce. The bread has to be decent too.
So there we go – some very interesting ideas there. And an interesting aside – and going back once again to the subject of music – one of the folk above who shared his cheese on toast method is actually the singer of a revered English band from the 1990s. His was one of the missives that were shared through the medium of Twitter – and within minutes of him posting his tweet there were a flurry of responses from his own Twitter followers, mainly suggesting how he could change the titles of some of his songs slightly to make them about cheese on toast.
Who knows, maybe this will lead to our man releasing a cheese on toast-themed concept album? Let’s face it, it’s something the world of music is sadly lacking!
Big thanks though to everyone who took the time to share their methods. It may be that you have your own tried and tested way of making it and that you’re planning to stick to that – however, hopefully at least some of the suggestions here have given you some fresh inspiration. Please let us know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post.