Grilled Cheetza

Pizza. Oh, pizza. That which we call a pizza by any other name would smell as cheesy.

This week, in honor of pizza's greatness, we’re messin’ around with pizza’s tasty-but-less-delicious cousin: grilled cheese! After all, pizza and grilled cheese share some righteous building blocks—bread and cheese.

Check out our GRILLED CHEETZA in today’s episode, and we’ve shared our grilled cheese pizza recipe below! But first, feast your brain on this.

Tale as Old as Time: Bread & Cheese (& Pizza)

Well, not quite that old…but the beloved duo has been celebrated and devoured by humankind for centuries. The ancient Greeks lived on a staple diet of bread and goat’s cheese. Ancient Roman cookbooks included recipes for cheese melted on bread. It’s no surprise that these culinarily-inclined cultures were also among the first to make the epitome of all cheese-bread pairings: PIZZA.

Italy, with its roots in ancient Rome, is credited with the invention of pizza. The first authentic pizzeria opened in Naples, Italy in 1780—originally known as “Pizzeria Pietro,” but is now known as Pizzeria Brandi and is STILL serving pizzas today! But, the true origin of the glorious, cheesy delight that is pizza is shrouded in some mystery…

Some say that the earliest pizzas may trace back to the Italian city of Pompeii (before it was buried by Mt. Vesuvius’ eruption). Beneath the volcanic ash, excavators discovered that the Pompeiians were busy baking flatbreads, using tools resembling modern pizza supplies. But, others have deemed the ancient Greeks the mother of pizza. There’s evidence that the Greeks were baking large, round breads and topping them off with veggies, potatoes, spices, and olive oil. 

However pizza came to be, we’re sure glad that it did. Naturally, it wasn’t until much later in history that grilled cheese came onto the scene.

Pizza's Baby Cousin is Born: Grilled Cheese

In the early 1900s, we see the first signs of grilled cheese sandwiches in France. Legend has it that a group of Parisian workers had left their ham and Gruyere cheese sandwiches too close to some hot radiators, and they returned to discover the cheese had melted! This may have been the beginning of the delectable Croque Monsieur sandwich, which went on to be Béchameled, broiled, and featured on menus across Paris.

But, the Croque Monsieur isn’t quite the classic “grilled cheese” we know today. That, of course, finds its roots in the U.S. of A. In the 1920s, the grilled-cheese stars had aligned: the bread slicer was invented, and James L. Kraft patented processed cheese! (Yes, you may recognize that name…) White bread was easier to distribute, cheese wouldn’t spoil as quickly, and both were cheap. Thus, the door to a grilled cheesy world bust wide open. 

The first grilled cheese sandwiches were called “toasted cheese” or “melted cheese” sandwiches. They were served open-faced—just one slice of bread topped with grated cheese and grilled. Soon, individually wrapped slices of cheese (Kraft Singles) showed up in grocery stores, a piece of bread was added on top, and toasted cheese became grilled cheese.

    A Thousand Ways to Grill Cheese

    Since that top slice was added, they’ve been griddled with butter, baked, broiled, and sautéed. The science of grilled cheese is rather extensive, with plenty of methodologies—some we recommend, some we recommend with caution: 

    • The Classic—Warm a skillet to medium heat, butter the outside of the bread (NOT the skillet), let that bread crisp and that cheese melt. Flip!
    • Easy Bake—Return to the the original "toasted cheese," open-faced style. Butter your bread slices, place each butter-side down, top with cheese, bake at 400 degrees, and assemble your sammie! Fun fact: this is a pretty standard grilled cheese prep used in Switzerland!
    • Im-Pressive—Pull out your Panini press and grill your sandwich, no flipping required!
    • Breakfast Cheese—Instead of a Panini press, try grilling your cheese sandwich on a waffle iron! 
    • Wilderness Cheese—Stranded in the wild? You can just as easily griddle up some cheesy goodness over a campfire.
    • The Johnny Depp—If you’ve seen the movie Benny & Joon, you already know what to do: pull out the clothes iron! Sounds crazy, but it actually may work… We haven’t tried it ourselves, but cheesy sources suggest plugging in your iron, turning off the steam option, and wrapping your buttered cheese sandwich in tin foil. On a heatproof surface, iron that baby like a shirt, gently back and forth for a few minutes, until crusty and melted!

    The Grilled CHEETZA

    But, back to pizza…shall I compare thee to a grilled cheese? Thou art more lovely and more scrumptious! Sure, grilled cheese is doing some things right with the warm toasty bread and the melty cheese. But, consider this: why is dipping grilled cheese in tomato sauce or ketchup such a widely accepted practice?! Because that sandwich is begging to be pizza-fied!

    Grilled cheese, your wish is our command. Today we present to you…THE GRILLED CHEETZA! We used eight buttery, golden grilled cheese sandwiches to make our crust, then topped it with sauce, cheese, toppings, and (of course) MORE CHEESE.

    Check out our grilled cheese pizza in today’s episode, and you can find the recipe we used below! So get to grillin’, and get to eatin’ that grilled cheetza.

    Ingredients:

    Grilled Cheese Sandwich Crust

    • 16 slices butter bread (for 8 sandwiches)
    • ½ stick butter
    • 8 slices cheddar cheese (1 slice per sandwich)
    • 1 package pepperoni (some inside sandwiches, some for topping)
    • ½ cup blue cheese crumbles

    Toppings

    • 1 cup tomato sauce
    • 1 ½ - 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
    • ⅓ cup goat cheese
    • 1 cup mushrooms
    • 1 green bell pepper, diced
    • additional pepperoni
    • feel free to get creative and use your favorite toppings!

    Procedure:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
    2. Butter the outside of each slice of bread. On the inside, layer sliced cheddar, pepperoni, and blue cheese. Top with other slice of buttered bread.
    3. Assemble all 8 sandwiches. Heat a griddle (or skillet) to medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
    4. Add sandwiches to griddle and cook, until golden brown and crispy. Flip each sandwich and cook on other side.
    5. Remove from griddle, allow to cool slightly, and cut each sandwich in half. (This will make serving your grilled cheetza easier!)
    6. On a baking sheet lined with parchment, place grilled cheese sandwiches in a flat layer.
    7. Spread tomato sauce across top of sandwich crust. Add cheeses and toppings.
    8. Bake for around 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to brown.
    9. Allow to cool slightly, serve, and EAT THAT CHEETZA.

    Yields 16 pieces, 1 delicious cheetza

    Like the Eat The Pizza swag from this episode? Get it here!