Bread

The Baguette Grilled Cheese: Better Than the Bagel Grilled Cheese

January 15, 2016

When Ali Slagle first told me about Sadelle's inverted bagel grilled cheese, I was at a loss for words.

Brilliant! I said, when I regained linguistic abilities.

The name itself excited me:

  • Inverted: Fabulous sugar desserts; upside-down roller coaster rides.
  • Bagel: Driving to Goldberg's with my dad on Sunday mornings; what I wake up thinking about.
  • Grilled cheese: All that is right in the world; also the Caseus cheese truck.
Photo by Brent Herrig for The New York Times

But when I thought about the execution (and saw the above photograph in The New York Times, I was confused—and disheartened.

As Ali explains in her article, the inverted bagel grilled cheese appears to have some... technical difficulties (to put it kindly). How do you even eat the thing? How do you cross that crater of droopy cheese in the middle to make it safely to the other side? I don't want to eat a bagel—not even a pizza bagel—with a fork and knife.

More: Here's a hybrid I can get behind.

And even if you figure out a way to do it better, so that it makes more sense (brava, Ali), I'd argue that, by combining the bagel and the grilled cheese, this hybrid obscures the best parts of each (and that has to be the number one pitfall of food mash-ups).

  • First, in order to melt the cheese and safely flip the whole contraption, you squish the bagel, thereby robbing it of its fluff and girth and pillowy-ness. Sadelle's makes excellent bagels: Why crush them? In the N.Y.T. picture it appears the people at Sadelle's do not press the bagel, but that leaves me grappling with how it can possibly be safely prepared and consumed.
  • Second, you sacrifice the best part of a grilled cheese: the interplay between the melted cheese and the crunchy, buttery bread and, in particular, those crackly, almost burnt bits of cheese that congregate at slice-edge. Instead, you're left with a pool of slippery cheese and, since the ending structure has a sort of hourglass shape, you do not maximize surface area for cheese-bread interaction.
  • Third, you impose rash limits for the amount of cheese and toppings you can add. Try to up the amount of cheese (or to spread on pesto or mustard or hot sauce) and watch your carefully-placed add-ons slide right on down the sloped bagel, into oblivion.
Photo by James Ransom

Still, I understand the appeal of making a grilled cheese out of something other than white or wheat, which is why I like the Baguette Grilled Cheese (pictured below).

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Say you have a baguette that's not top-quality (maybe it's a little old, maybe it's too bready, maybe it's more flat than cylindrical). Cut off a piece—7 to 8 inches long, then slice it like a giant sub. Invert the halves, buttering the insides (which are now the outsides!) generously (you can also take a cue from Gabrielle Hamilton and use mayo.) Carefully stick thinly sliced cheese in the middle, then make a grilled cheese as you know how. Do be careful as you flip: Like the inverted bagel grilled cheese, the baguette grilled cheese is more slippery than a traditional one.

The baguette grilled cheese allows you to grill/toast/press something that you would not normally be able to (as baguettes are typically too round and hard). Bagels, on the other hand, are pliable enough that you could grill them as is, no highfalutin inversion necessary.

What's more, it's a great use for a baguette on its way to the compost bin. (Bagels toast more easily than baguettes. Toast your old bagel—or put it in a savory bread pudding—rather than inverting it.)

Okay, so you can't add as many fillings as a normal grilled cheese and if your baguette has really, really hard outer crust, you're going to run into a problem. Still, it makes more sense than an inverted bagel grilled cheese. And there's a lot less to lose.

And with that leftover bagel? Do one of these things instead:

What is your favorite grilled cheese holder? Tell us in the comments below!

11 Comments

HDeffenbaugh February 4, 2016
Talk about the best comfort food. Not only a grilled cheese, which in itself is complete comfort, but to make it with a baguette? Perfection. So perfect in fact that I may need to make that for lunch on this rainy Oregon day.
 
EL February 4, 2016
Not even remotely tempting. The strata that I make with stale baguettes is so good that I save stale bread for it (and otherwise I agree with Alan). By the way, bagels are not supposed to be "fluffy". If they are then there's something wrong (I mean, seriously, "fluffy"?). While pliable, and certainly not tough, they should be fairly chewy. If not, there's probably something wrong (perhaps not having been boiled?).
 
tastysweet February 4, 2016
Was just reading this and thought that if the baguette was hard, just cut a thin slice off the top of it so it will sit flat.
 
Henry J. January 18, 2016
Posie-I couldn't agree more about SJ
 
Posie (. January 18, 2016
SJ you are the cutest. Such earnest bewilderment, and such a good solution! I will baguette grilled cheese immediately tomorrow for lunch.
 
Henry J. January 18, 2016
Thanks for the shout out! Also, nice reference to new haven
 
MarieGlobetrotter January 16, 2016
Something we used to eat at home when my mother did not to cook: baguette topped with Mozzarella and basil. Just spread some parsley/butter on a slice of baguette (which can be slightly toasted before), add a slice of mozzarella, some basil on top and bake in the oven.Voilà...
 
Alan January 15, 2016
I love bagels. I REALLY love melted cheese. You'd think this inverted babel thing would be right up my alley, but I'm not even remotely tempted to try it. I don't think the inverted baguette thing is any better, but maybe I just don't get it. If I have a baguette screaming to be used as a sandwich, I throw some cheese and ham on it, put it in a steamer for a few minutes, top it with lettuce and vinaigrette, and chow down. Works great with a stale baguette, but I prefer fresh (and besides, most of my stale ones become French toast anyway...).
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. January 18, 2016
I have never thought to put a baguette in the steamer, but I am intrigued!
 
Alan January 19, 2016
I wish I could claim it as my own original idea, but alas it is not. I used to get steamed sandwiches at a bar in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta. I haven't lived there in almost 8 years now and have no idea whether the place still exists, but I always have some hunks of baguette around and this is a great way to use them.
 
amysarah January 15, 2016
Inside out grilled cheese sounds like fun....but I must take exception to this: an old (though still edible) baguette should never be on its way to the compost bin. Ageism, I tell you! Bread crumbs, croutons, bread pudding, stuffing, panzanella, and on and on....