Broke Student Cooking: Grilled Cheese Surprise

Broke Student cooking features delicious items dreamed and cooked up by UA student, Britannia Roskelly. Follow Britannia on Instagram at @balboa_kitchen.

Who doesn’t love the humble grilled cheese? Whether you’re exhausted and starving after an 18-hour day, or simply need to help alleviate a friend’s case of the munchies, a grilled cheese always satisfies.

There are limitless options with a grilled cheese, but here’s how to make a most delectable, win your friends over, Broke Student Grilled Cheese Surprise.

Keep in mind that a grilled cheese sandwich is a blank canvas and whatever ingredients you most prefer and have access to are the best option when creating your own. Don’t like tomatoes? Try avocado. Don’t have an affinity for spicy heat? Try garlic instead of chipotle pepper. Most importantly, have fun!

Broke Student Grilled Cheese Surprise Recipe

Cooking utensils
  • Two nonstick pans with lids
  • Spatula
  • 1 prep bowl
  • Knife
  • Cheese grater (if you have one)
  • Cutting board
  • Paper towels
  • Cookie cutter, shot glass, or small drinking glass – something that will cut a hole in the middle of the bread. Make sure that the cutter/glass will not make too big of a hole.
  • Four thickly sliced, dense bread (Barrio bread, Time Market or Beyond Bread would be perfect)
  • Melty cheese (such as sharp cheddar)
  • One egg per sandwich
  • Fresh tomatoes, 2 Tb or 1/8 cup per sandwich
  • Tomato paste, 2 Tb or 1/8 cup per sandwich
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce per sandwich
  • 1 TB Parmigiano Reggiano per sandwich
  • 2 Tsp mayonnaise per sandwich
  • 1-2 TB butter and/or bacon drippings per sandwich (referred to as “fats” in the directions)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Mise En Place

Mise en place is a French concept that means “putting in place.”

Mise en place is a fun, interactive experience to eliminate stress while cooking and freeing up time to spend with your guests.

For this recipe, here’s how it works:

  • Finely chop the tomatoes and combine with tomato paste, chipotle pepper and a small amount of adobo sauce and place in pan.
  • Thickly slice one slice of the melty cheese per sandwich and cut into two or more portions.
  • Grate or finely chop the Parmigiano Reggiano and place in the prep bowl.
  • Spread mayonnaise on one side of each piece of bread and sprinkle with salt and/or pepper.
  • Add fat to empty pan.
Cooking Directions
  1. Cook and stir the tomato mixture over medium heat until warm and melt the fats over low heat.
  2. Place mayonnaise side bread slices in the pan with the fat. If your pan is large enough you can cook 4 or more slices but don’t overcrowd. Increase the heat to medium-low.
  3. Spread the cheeses on two pieces of bread extending to the edges but leaving the middle cheese-less.
  4. Spoon the tomato mixture on top of the cheese avoiding the center and add the chipotle pepper, if using.
  5. Place a slice of bread on top of the tomato/cheese piece and cook until the bottom is golden brown, checking by gently lifting a corner.  This should just take a few minutes.
  6. Sprinkle the Parmigiano Reggiano in a thin, even layer on top of the sandwich.
  7. Flip the sandwich over and using the cutter press firmly to cut a hole in the center until the cutter touches the pan.  Remove the cutter.  Eat the hole or toss aside. 
  8. Add more fat to the pan.
  9. Crack an egg into the center of the sandwich.
  10. Cover the pan and cook for two minutes being careful not to move the sandwiches.  Continue cooking until the white of the egg is clear and the yolk firm (unless you prefer it to be runny like I do).
  11. Remove from heat and place the sandwiches on a paper towel.  Dab to remove excess grease.
  12. Serve while warm!

Total Cost: $3.43.

Overall, $17.01 was spent, but the leftovers will create multiple meals.

Into Wine?

Enjoy with a spicy, hearty red wine like a Malbec and serve with soup or grilled vegetables. The sandwich is enough to stand alone, however. Go with your instincts, and bon appétit.

Britannia Roskelly is a UA student with a passion for high gastronomy on a budget. Follow her on Instagram at @balboa_kitchen.