I tried Gordon Ramsay's 'ultimate' grilled cheese sandwich, but it didn't satisfy my melted-cheese needs

I tried Gordon Ramsay's 'ultimate' grilled cheese sandwich, but it didn't satisfy my melted-cheese needs
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Insider reporter Victoria Montalti with the ingredients for Gordon Ramsay's grilled cheese recipe.
Gordon Ramsay's grilled cheese recipe includes two types of cheese and kimchi.Victoria Montalti/Insider
  • I tried Gordon Ramsay's "Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich," which included two cheeses and kimchi.

  • His ingredients and techniques sparked outcry on the internet after he shared the recipe in 2020.

  • When I tested it, the bread was crisp, but the cheese didn't melt.

I'm an avid grilled cheese-eater so Gordon Ramsay's "Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich" piqued my interest.

Gordon Ramsay cooking at a stove with heated pans.
Gordon Ramsay is known for his upscaled cooking, so it's no surprise he put a spin on a classic comfort food.Franco Origlia/Getty Images

With winter in full swing, warm and ooey-gooey comfort food is the way to get through the cold days, and grilled cheese is the perfect option. It's crisp on the outside, melted on the inside, and warm all over. I'm an avid grilled cheese-eater, and the "fancy" ones with Gruyere cheese or caramelized onions or fig jam overjoy me. So do I order them at restaurants every chance I get? Absolutely. But do I make them for myself at home? Not really.

However, I was really craving a fancy grilled cheese so I looked up recipes from celebrity chefs. Of course, Gordon Ramsay's "Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich" recipe from 2020 popped up ... as did headlines bashing it. I fought the urge to read the reviews so I could make up my own mind. Instead, I read Ramsay's recipe, watched a tutorial he filmed while in Tasmania, and went straight to the store to pick up the ingredients.

Ramsay's written recipe and the video of him making the grilled cheese slightly differ. I took notes from both. Follow along to see if Ramsay's recipe is worth the hate.

The sandwich calls for two types of cheese and kimchi.

Ingredients laid out on a dishcloth including a ciabatta bread load, romano and asiago cheese, bottle of kimchi, peppercorns, and butter.
I purchased the ingredients for $26.45 from my local grocery store, Foodtown.Victoria Montalti/Insider

Ramsay's recipe calls for Romano cheese with Pepperberry, Asiago cheese, thick slices of country bread, and kimchi. Some standard butter, olive oil, and salt are also in the mix. I went to my local grocery store, Foodtown, to see if I could find the slightly upscale ingredients.

I had to purchase a few alternatives. Since Foodtown only had soft, pre-sliced country bread, I opted for the next best thing: a freshly baked loaf of ciabatta bread that looked the most similar to the shape and hard crust of Ramsay's.

While I think a cheese shop would've had the exact blocks of Romano and Asiago cheese that Ramsay used in his tutorial, I picked up pre-packaged ones. The recipe suggests that if you can't find Romano with Pepperberry, to add pink peppercorns instead. I found a peppercorn medley grinder that included the pink variety.

The ingredients came to $26.45. This was definitely going to be a "fancy" grilled cheese.

First, I had to cut "mini bricks of cheese."

8 strips of bricks of cheese separated by romano and asiago styles.
The recipe calls for Romano and Asiago cheese cut into thin blocks. Ramsay used Romano with Pepperberry.Victoria Montalti/Insider

The recipe didn't specify which cheese brands to use, so I bought the only option available at Foodtown, BelGioioso. Ramsay's cheeses were more vibrant and marbled compared to my less-than-visually appealing pre-packaged versions.

Ramsay first cuts the Romano and Asiago into "mini bricks of cheese" in the tutorial. I found this slightly peculiar since they were hard cheeses and the thickness seemed daunting. I thought shaving or grating the cheese might be a better method to layer and melt it, but I followed the chef's orders and cut them into quarter-inch slices.

Next came cutting and buttering the bread.

Two slices of ciabatta bread with butter on them.
I cut the ciabatta into 1-inch thick slices and generously spread warmed butter on them.Victoria Montalti/Insider

Contrary to most people's go-to of pre-sliced white bread for grilled cheeses, Ramsay uses a thick loaf of country bread that he then cuts into 1-inch slices. My alternative, ciabatta, had more air pockets and was a bit softer on the inside. This made cutting even slices without it falling apart slightly difficult.

Since my stick of butter was still cold and my bread was delicate, I popped the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then I spread it on one side of each slice as carefully and generously as I could. I sprinkled on salt and then flipped it over to add the fillings.

Ramsay's cheese placement threw me for a loop.

Side by side photos of the blocks of cheese on the bread with peppercorn ground on top.
The grilled cheese calls for Asiago and Romano with Pepperberry. Alternatively, the recipe said you could add pink peppercorn instead.Victoria Montalti/Insider

This was one step where the instructions differed between the written recipe and the tutorial. In the recipe, it simply says to put approximately four brick slices per cheese across both slices of bread. This is what I opted to do.

But in a questionable choice from the tutorial that shook me to my core, the chef puts the Romano and Asiago bricks side by side on each slice, rather than overlapping them. This technique wouldn't ensure even distribution of flavor, since half the sandwich had Romano and the other half had Asiago.

So following the written recipe and my own judgment, I stacked the cheeses. I then ground the peppercorns on top of the cheese to try to replicate the intended flavor.

In a unique spin on a classic grilled cheese, Ramsay's recipe includes kimchi.

A side by side photo of the kimchi container and the kimchi layered on top of the cheese.
The addition of kimchi was a unique and aromatic addition to the sandwich.Victoria Montalti/Insider

This is what I came for: This is what would make it "fancy." It also made me nervous because I've only eaten kimchi a handful of times and wasn't sure if it would overpower the sandwich's flavor profile since it's so aromatic.

While Ramsay includes homemade kimchi, the written recipe didn't specify this, so I bought a jar from Kimchi Pride & Foods. I then forked it on top of both slices of bread.

Next, I assembled the sandwich.

The assembled sandwich shows thick bread, strips of cheese, and dripping kimchi.
After assembling the sandwich, the ingredients piled nearly 4 inches tall.Victoria Montalti/Insider

Did it surprise me that my sandwich stood nearly 4 inches tall? No, there were eight bricks of cheese in it for crying out loud. I wondered if the sandwich would even stay in one piece, let alone cook. The juice from the kimchi had also started to leak down the sandwich.

It was time to cook the monstrously tall sandwich.

Side by side photos of the sandwich on a cast iron pan and again being pressed down with a spatula.
The sandwich immediately sizzled on the cast-iron pan, especially after it was pressed down.Victoria Montalti/Insider

While Ramsay cooked his sandwich over an open flame in a brick oven, the recipe recommends the more standard stove-top cooking method.

Following the directions, I drizzled some olive oil into my cast-iron pan and turned the flame onto medium-high heat before placing the sandwich in. The buttered bread and oil immediately started to sizzle. After about a minute, I pressed down on the sandwich with a spatula to meld all the ingredients and crisp the bread. After a couple of minutes, it was time to flip the sandwich.

I flipped the sandwich and tried not to burn it.

Side by sife photo of a hand holding a pot holder and pushing down on a spatula and the cooked, crisp sandwich afterward.
After flipping the sandwich and pressing down on it with a pot holder, the butter and oil produced a lot of steam.Victoria Montalti/Insider

After flipping the sandwich, I was pleasantly surprised to see the bread was crisping nicely and turning golden. But while the bread was cooking, the cheese wasn't really melting. Whether it was the thickness of the sandwich or the particular cheese types, the cheese began to slide outward rather than melt into the sandwich.

As suggested, I pushed the sandwich down again with a spatula, but I added more weight with my hand. Ramsay used a dish rag and I used a pot holder for safety. As it started to steam, the nutty and tangy smells from the cheese and kimchi filled the kitchen.

I kept the sandwich in the pan for about five more minutes to see if any more melting was possible. It was not.

The final presentation was a little lackluster, in my opinion.

The grilled cheese cut in half and displayed on a plate.
The grilled cheese was crisp on the outside but the cheese wasn't melted on the inside.Victoria Montalti/Insider

I tried so hard to make the cheese melt, but it just wouldn't budge. Admittedly, I had more cheese than Ramsay did in his tutorial, but his cheese also didn't melt. The cheese on my sandwich was definitely softer than its original form and easy to bite through, but it didn't satisfy my oozing, melted cheese needs.

It did taste good though. I couldn't really distinguish what flavor was coming from which ingredient and whether or not the peppercorn made a noticeable contribution to the sandwich, but the kimchi added a nice tang and bite to the grilled cheese. It also added some much needed "liquid-y" consistency since the cheese wasn't supplying that crucial element.

This grilled cheese didn't turn me off as much as it seemed to turn off the rest of the internet. It did teach me what cheese not to use in the future, though. In some cases it's best to leave the cooking to the professionals. But for Ramsay's "Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich," I can't say that that's the case.

In 2021, Ramsay responded to criticism about his grilled cheese after it caused a stir online.

Gordon Ramsay with an animated facial expression and his hands up in the air.
Gordon Ramsay reacted to a TikTok video that put his grilled cheese on blast.Chris Pizzello/AP Images

After cooking and eating the sandwich, I finally read the reviews. One TikTok video in particular by @dishedit called out the chef for his ingredients and cooking methods, while they cooked an altered version of the sandwich. The video, which was shared last fall, spread on the internet and caught the eye of Ramsay himself.

Ramsay dueted the TikTok, commenting on the TikToker's criticisms and suggestions. He defended himself, saying cooking appliances were limited in Tasmania.

"OK, maybe I didn't put it in the pan long enough — I was in a rush!" he said.

However, he did agree that the @dishedit's version of the grilled cheese also looked great.

"Tell you what though, it looks good!" he said.

Read the original article on Insider

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