Sometimes a sandwich blogger needs some cheese slices. So I made some.
My wife recently shared a link to some new flavored cheese slices from Kraft and it inspired me to make a few cheesy, flavored cheese slices of my own. The new Kraft Singles flavors are Caramelized onion, Jalapeno, and Garlic & Herb and they all sound fairly interesting to me, but I made some different flavors of my own.
I haven’t tried these new flavors of Kraft Singles, but you can read someone else’s reviews of each of these cheese slices at The Kitchn.
If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll know that I’m not an American cheese hater, but the individually plastic-wrapped Singles aren’t what I purchase. I’ve written about the differences in American Cheese before and if you’re apprehensive about your experiences with it, you might have only tried the plastic-wrapped slices. Go to the deli counter and ask for sliced American cheese, it’s way better but it still melts very well.
This week I’m going to show you how you can use any sort of shredded or crumbled cheese, even Cheddar or Blue cheese, and turn it into homemade slices that you can make with any sort of seasonings, and they melt better than the original base cheese. So, with only one extra ingredient, you can turn a pound of cheddar cheese into slices of melty cheddar cheese.
You can make cheese slices?
Last summer, when the world was overwhelmed with Barbie, I decided to make the pinkest-colored burger that I could. This required some pink-colored cheese, and I bought the main ingredient that can assist with creating melty slices from shredded cheese.
Sodium citrate is that ingredient and it’s fairly cheap and easily obtainable online. Sodium citrate helps encourage cheese to melt more evenly by reducing the acidity of cheese and strengthening the fat to water emulsion. To put it simply, this means that sodium citrate helps remove the ability of melted cheese to clump up.
You can use just a touch of sodium citrate to turn pretty much any shredded cheese into a smooth and melty cheese sauce. Or you can add sodium citrate to liquid and then blend it in with practically any sort of cheese, flatten it out, cool it down, and turn it all into cheese slices that will melt very easily.
What is needed to make cheese slices?
Sodium citrate is the main ingredient that you probably do not already have easy access to in your grocery or pantry. As of the writing of this blog post, it costs around 11 dollars on Amazon for a bag that will allow you to make 30+ pounds of cheese slices. Sodium citrate is an emulsifier that helps the fat in cheese to bond to liquid (in this case it’s usually water) to create a blended cheese sauce. The emulsifying process does mute the cheese flavor because you’re blending it in with water, so make sure to take that into account.
You can make melty cheese slices from pretty much any hard or semi-hard cheese that you can shred yourself. Don’t buy pre-shredded cheese for this because the stuff that has been shredded and then packaged typically has additives that will hinder the clumping process. Pre-shredded cheese might or might not work in this process, so I suggest you be on the safe side and buy blocks of cheese and shred them yourself.
So far, I’ve only used beet juice and water as the liquids in this process. Other recipes I have seen call for the use of milk, so I’m assuming that will work well. I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t try it with beer at some point.
You could probably get by with less than the tools that I’m going to describe here, but I think these all to be helpful. The links below are all for Amazon which I am an affiliate of. This means I could earn a small pittance if you purchased the products using my links. These products are all things that I already own and use unless I mention otherwise.
- Small pot: I’m not sure how you can make this recipe without a pot, I’m assuming you have a pot already, but I’m listing it to be thorough. You need a pot.
- Sheet pan: a “half sheet” pan is almost the perfect size for 1 pound of cheese to spread out and be the thickness for cheese slices.
- Silpat: Silpat is a brand name that has become ubiquitous with what it is (sort of like Kleenex). It is typically used for baking, and it fits in a “half sheet” pan. A Silpat is a flat piece of silicone that should be fairly non-stick that people use to bake cookies on. Because of its flexibility and non-stick capabilities, this mat works fantastically for making melty cheese slices. This keeps the cheese from sticking to the pan and it makes it super easy to flip out a full slab of cheese so that you can slice it on your cutting board. You can also get cheaper versions from Amazon Basics but I haven’t tried these.
- Wax paper: I do not think you have to have wax paper to make sliced cheese, but it does make it easier for the whole process. Once the cheese has been poured onto the Silpat or sheet pan, you can spread the cheese out as much as possible and then cover everything with a sheet of wax paper. The hot cheese will not stick to the paper at this time and the sheet of paper can help to flatten all the cheese evenly.
- Offset spatula: this tool is not required, but it will help you spread the hot cheese out more evenly. It also helps to spray the spatula with a bit of non-stick spray before you get started with the process.
Roasted garlic white cheddar slices
I sometimes don’t want to wait at the deli counter and my local grocery (Mariano’s) slices a few brands/types of meat and cheese and pre-packs them in weighed-out zip-top bags. One of the cheese options that has often been available there is Dietz and Watson’s roasted garlic cheddar. If you can find it, it’s a really good cheese for a sandwich.
I decided to make my own version of a roasted garlic white cheddar and it turned out just as good as the Dietz and Watson version.
Someone asked me when I shared some homemade flavored cheese on social media if you couldn’t just add those ingredients directly into the sandwich and yeah you could. But it’s a whole lot easier if you integrate the flavor into the cheese so it’s ready for your next sandwich.
There are a lot of photos with my hand visible in this sandwich blog post. Cool folks will count them and post the number of photos with my hand in them in the comments.
Roasted garlic cheeseburger
Ok, some behind-the-scenes info here, I’m also working on a better-than-Wendy’s burger that you can read about in a few weeks. That’s why all of these burgers are square-shaped patties. They’re all also quarter-pound patties because I weighed and shaped them with a 4-inch square biscuit cutter.
Each patty was seared and flipped with roasted garlic white cheddar added. That’s pretty much the recipe.
Gochujang cheddar cheese slices
This was the first flavored cheese slice that I decided to make. It turned out well, but you have to remember that to have a marbled effect you need to work quickly while the cheese is still hot to integrate the gochujang into the rest of the cheese. If you check out the recipe, you’ll see that I suggest that you dump out all but about a quarter of the cheese sauce into the sheet pan, then add gochujang to the pot with the last bit of melty cheese, incorporate it well, and then pour it on top of the cheese on the sheet pan to mix it in.
This cheese was used in several sandwiches, but I only got photos of the following two breakfast biscuits. These happened to be gochujang buttermilk biscuits as well, so all of the flavors integrated well.
Giardiniera cheddar slices
If you’re not from Chicago, you might not know what giardiniera is. Giardiniera is a mix of a bunch of different vegetables that are pickled and packaged in oil. I decided that since I live in Chicago, I had to make some giardiniera cheese slices for a roast beef sandwich. So that’s what I did.
Here’s a recipe for the giardiniera cheese slices. The same recipe is also in the sandwich recipe a little bit further down the page as well.
Roast beef, gravy, and melty giardiniera cheese sandwich
Gravy and roast beef make for the bulk of this sandwich but a spicy pickled veggie addition to the cheese helps to cut the fat and contrast the rich flavors. This is a comforting sandwich that will leave you very satisfied.
Ingredients:Roast beef and gravy
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil (vegetable, canola, etc.)
- 3 pound chuck roast
- salt and black pepper
- 2 large onions, roughly chopped
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon beef base (Better than Bouillion brand is good)
- 3 to 4 cups beef broth (low sodium works best)
- 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup giardiniera, chopped into small pieces
- 1⁄2 cup water
- 14 grams sodium citrate (a heaping tablespoon - see notes below for links to order)
- 16 ounces white cheddar, shredded (1 pound)
- 1 six to eight-inch sub roll
- beef and gravy (from above)
- 1 to 2 slices of giardiniera cheese (from above)
Roast beef and gravy: preheat your oven to 275 F (135 C).
Liberally salt the exterior of the chuck roast and allow it to sit on a cutting board for 30 minutes. After the beef has rested, dry off the exterior with paper towels to ensure it is dry. The salt will bring moisture to the surface and if the surface of the meat is damp it will not sear properly in the next step. So, dry it off.
On your stove, over high heat place a large pot or Dutch oven. Add 3 tablespoons of oil and allow it to heat up until the oil is shimmering. Once the oil is shimmering, add the roast and sear it on each side for 7 minutes. Once at least 3 sides have been seared remove the roast to a plate to rest for the next step.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool for 5 minutes while you chop your onions. After 5 minutes, add the pot back to medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of butter.
Once the butter is melted and bubbly add onions and cook for 4 or 5 minutes to soften them.
Add the minced garlic and cook for around 1 minute, stirring everything together.
After 1 minute, add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, stir, and cook for another 1 minute to cook off the flour taste.
Pour 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tablespoon of beef bouillon base into the onions. Stir everything well to combine and as soon as it's all combined you can add 3 cups of beef stock.
Bring everything to a simmer and then add the chuck roast back into the pot. Taste the gravy for seasoning. If it doesn't seem salty enough, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of salt.
Place the lid on to cover the beef and gravy and place in the oven to bake for 4 hours.
After 4 hours remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid from the pot. Allow the beef to rest in the gravy for 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes have passed, remove the beef to a sealed container or wrap it in plastic and foil and place it in the refrigerator to cool. It's easier to slice when it is cool.
Place the gravy in another sealed container to be used later when it's time for sandwiching.
After about 2 hours you can slice the meat into 1/4 inch or thinner slices. Or you can wait until it's time for sandwiches to slice.
Prepare the giardiniera: place 1/4 to 1/2 cup of giardiniera on a cutting board. With a paper towel, dry off some of the excess oil from the giardiniera, trying to remove as much as possible because extra oil might make your cheese not set properly. After the pickled veggies are dry, chop them into very fine pieces.
Giardiniera cheddar cheese slices: add a greased or Silpat lined sheet pan to your oven on its lowest setting. Mine is 150 F.
Add water to a medium-sized pot and bring to a simmer. Add sodium citrate and stir to combine.
Slowly add all the shredded cheese, stopping to stir the cheese into the sauce after every handful. Once all the cheese is added stir very well while the cheese is still simmering to make sure it is very smooth.
Add the finely chopped giardiniera and stir again to incorporate it thoroughly into the cheese sauce.
Once the giardiniera is fully mixed in, carefully pour the sauce over the warm sheet pan and shake the sheet pan to allow the sauce to spread out. You may need a knife or offset spatula for this. Once the sauce is in a consistently thin layer, cover the cheese with wax paper and move it to a refrigerator to cool.
Once the cheese is fully cool, you can carefully remove it from the sheet pan and slice the cheese into 3.5-inch squares or whatever shapes you desire. To store the cheese, place a piece of parchment or wax paper between each slice and store it in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Sandwich assembly: in a small pot add beef and a couple of large spoonfuls of gravy. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the meat and gravy are warmed all the way through.
Add the beef and a bit of gravy to the middle of a split sub roll and top with a slice or two of giardiniera cheese.
Add the sandwich to a broiler and broil for 4 to 5 minutes or until the cheese is melty and the bread is starting to brown a little.
Add more giardiniera if desired. Serve and enjoy.
Sodium citrate is not going to be something you can find at the grocery store. Here is the brand of Sodium Citrate that I use from Amazon.
Check back next week for more sandwiches
It’s gonna be a Fat Tuesday Eve celebration! There’s going to be a similar amount of beef but a zero amount of cheese. Stick around and find out what the heck any of this means!