2

So, I'm not a chef and there are few foods I'm good at cooking. Grilled sandwiches, however, I would say are one of these few. Of course, for such sandwiches, with grilled or toasted bread, the crispness of the bread from toasting or grilling is a major component of the food experience. However, I have found that serving a sandwich the standard way, with on bread slice down, often results in a severe reduction in crispness, especially if the sandwich contains meat or other juicy items. Even if the sandwich insides are not so juicy, like for a grilled cheese, the release of water vapor due to the fact that the sandwich is hot, and having it trapped there between the sandwich and the plate, is enough to completely nullify the crispness of that piece of bread.

My personal solution to this is to cut the sandwich, typically diagonally, and plate it with the cut side down, so as to allow the release of water vapor to the air, and to mitigate juices going straight to the bread. I have found this to work quite well, as long as the sandwich is one that basically holds itself together decently well. (a toothpick can help.)

My question is whether this is a known plating technique for sandwiches, where the purpose of such plating is to maintain bread texture properties.

  • I've seen it done plenty of times ... usually cut diagonally, on edge, with the two pieces at roughly a right angle to each other. – Joe Mar 11 '15 at 18:23
  • 1
    I'm not sure I understand the point of your question. You seem to have already established that this works - are you really just trying to ask if anyone else has ever done it? Or are you actually trying to figure something out? (Note that if all you're trying to do is let people know that this works, you can ask and answer your own question.) – Cascabel Mar 11 '15 at 23:58
  • If you want to get fancy, you can dab a little more butter in the pan and fry that cut side down. It gives you an opportunity to burn a little more cheese to the pan, which is my favorite part. Seems to work when cut in two triangles, but not as two rectangles. – Derpy Mar 12 '15 at 0:05
  • 2
    Think about the traditional plating of a club sandwich. Would it even be a club sandwich if the triangles weren't vertical? – Kate Gregory Mar 12 '15 at 14:07
  • 1
    @bean In the spirit of "ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face" perhaps a more useful question would be "how can one keep the crust from getting soggy?" where you have one possible answer already. That way you'll find out about what actually works (including whatever is "known"). – Cascabel Mar 12 '15 at 19:54
6

I think this is a perfectly legitimate question. Flat plating of a grilled sandwich will almost always result in the bottom piece of bread being steamed by the time it is eaten. Grilling with thicker or denser bread somewhat alleviates the problem, as well as grilling with a roll sliced and grilled on the cut side.

As for presentation, your method is definitely not unheard of. The comment about the Club Sandwich is point on. You might also consider serving your sandwich with one half of the sandwich laying against some chips or veggie slices (carrot or celery sticks). That would keep the steam from developing under the sandwich. Then place the second half on the plate, barely overlapping the first. Grilled sandwiches are just one of those things that don't hold too long for service.

  • That's a good point about proping them up. Even when I make toast, I'll push it over to the edge of the plate, so it's got an air gap below it (as it's in a concave portion of the plate, not the flat part in the middle) – Joe Mar 26 '15 at 20:33
3

A Google image search for "grilled cheese sandwich" shows the traditional bread-on-plate plating is far and away the most common. In some cases, one of the halves is leaning on another (presumably salvaging the crispiness of that half somewhat).

However, I've definitely been served vertically plated hot sandwiches. You sort of need to find the sweet spot between "nice restaurant that thinks carefully about presentation and food quality" and "casual enough restaurant that it sells a grilled cheese sandwich."

The biggest challenge to vertical plating is that it's more difficult to preserve the appearance between kitchen and table, since the sandwich is less stable when standing on end and therefore falls over more easily. I assume that's one of the main reasons it isn't more widely used. Leaning the halves against one another, or even quartering the sandwich (the pieces are smaller and more stable), help alleviate that instability. I'd imagine clever use of toothpicks could help even more.

  • 1
    I wouldn't want a grilled cheese sandwich served on the edge, the melted cheese would flow towards the edge. – Ross Ridge Mar 12 '15 at 14:09
  • 1
    Some cheeses are more melted and fluid than others. One of my kids' favorite dining out places serves their grilled cheese on edge like this, and it's intact. – Erica Mar 12 '15 at 14:11
  • @Erica, I also did the obligatory Google searching, and found many images of one half sandwich propped up by the other half. Do you have any idea whether this is expressly for maintenance of texture, or if it is simply for presentation/aesthetics? – bean Mar 12 '15 at 19:44
  • I guess that it's for aesthetics -- why preserve the consistency of only half the dish? -- but it is certainly a guess :) – Erica Mar 12 '15 at 19:46
  • 1
    Bad humour sorry. Cheese made from milk is not natuarlly so yellow as the toasted cheese pictures show – TFD Mar 14 '15 at 3:59
0

If the whole problem is the bottom getting soggy, you can try several things.

  • consider keeping the sandwich on a cake cooling grille, or one of the smaller pot cooling grilles, even serving it on them on informal occasions.
  • Alternatively, put the sandwich on a napkin and not directly on porcelain, to minimize condensation and have some of the moisture seep into the paper instead of the sandwich. But this can backfire if the paper is so thin and fluffy that it glues itself onto the sandwich, so choose the napkin carefully.
  • serve the sandwich on a non-oiled wooden board, it will reduce (but not remove) condensation. Note that if it's a cutting board, the steam will leach food odors, especially stale onion, into the sandwich, so don't use that. If you have a coaster made of flat wooden beads, use one of them on a plate.
  • if you are serving the sandwich with something on the side, prop it there, either on a slant or even flat with enough support. What you use and how you arrange it depends on the complete ingredients of your meal.

If keeping it vertical works for you, you can surely go on doing it, the food police won't come to arrest you :) But like other posters, I'd be afraid of sliding, it probably doesn't go well with any sandwich.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.