Monday, November 08, 2004

Turning Up the Heat

OK, note to self: Turning up the heat does not necessarily speed up the cooking process.

I should have learned my lesson with the pancakes. Tired of waiting while I cooked a stack of pancakes large enough to feed all of us, my wife bought me a great cast iron griddle last year. Larger griddle = more pancakes cooking at one time. Still, it would take several griddles worth of pancakes to satisfy our hunger, and that takes time. A while back I decided to simply turn up the heat, figuring they would cook faster and keep those starving kids from nipping at my heels. Well, yeah, they cooked fast... sometimes too fast. Anybody for blackened pancakes? I tried to pass them off as Cajun but to no avail. And sometimes they'd be done on the outside, but raw inside. There's just no rushing a good pancake.

So, I decided to make the kids grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch today. I put the skillet on the stove, assembled the sandwiches and threw them on to cook. They seemed to be taking too long so I bumped the heat up. A minute later: blackened grilled cheese. It's a delicate balance between the cheese melting, the bread getting that nice toasty crunch to it, and scorching your sandwich and turning it into a briquet.

Like pancakes, the secret to a good grilled cheese is using just the right amount of butter and finding that perfect temperature. It doesn't do any good to rush the process.

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