A grilled cheese... is as simple as toasting bread and cheese together. It's the comfort food of our childhood. But in the modern-day when cars can drive themselves, you can basically do your job from a phone, and food trucks are the most popular restaurants in town, of course, someone out there took a grilled cheese and fancified it with meat. But questions remain. For example, can a grilled ham and cheese simply be called a "grilled cheese?"
I'm all in favor of using bread in any sort of way it needs to be used. Give me a grilled cheese sandwich, garlic bread, or even a French toast. I'll take all the slices of bread I can eat. Basically, I'll take all the carbohydrates!
So when I recently stumbled upon a food truck that was serving cheese melts with all kinds of meats and cheese in it (such as deli ham, steak, gruyere, and Swiss cheese), while calling themselves a grilled cheese truck, I didn't bat an eye. But then somehow it hit me the next day, was the Philly grilled cheese we ordered yesterday actually a grilled cheese?
In my opinion, that is not the golden brown grilled cheese sandwich recipe I have always known. In fact, that Philly melt is just a Philly cheesesteak. Let's say it has ham in it instead, then that's technically a ham sandwich. Cafe shops will simply call it like it is as a "ham & cheese." Why were there all these grilled cheese melts on the menu with tons of meat options?
I get it, it almost requires the same standard ingredients. We have white bread that's super buttery, filled with melty American cheese. Then the process of making it is also the same, grilling it on medium heat for both sides to get nice and crispy. (Alert the cholesterol police!) But there's one last thing, not in any specific order, that sets a true grilled cheese apart from the rest. It's the prep time.
A grilled cheese is fantastic for being a super quick meal to enjoy at the table or take on the go. When you throw meat in it, everything in that purpose changes. The first being the prep time. If you're going to use meat, then you need to set aside some time to prep or even cook that meat depending on what it is.
Next, a meaty grilled cheese is very hard to eat on the go. In the case of the Philly melt, the meat was falling out all over the place. Not to mention the total time it took to devour it was much longer than devoting about 5 minutes to a grilled cheese.
So there you have it, for me a yummy grilled cheese is as simple as bread and cheese melted together. But there's no textbook definition that says that it should be that way. So if you think a grilled ham and cheese can also be a called a grilled cheese, you are right as well!