Tom PapoutsisTom Papoutsis is a “Firehouse Chef” that currently holds the rank of Lieutenant with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Tom’s experience in the Fire Service spans over 29 years, 19 of which have been with Fairfax County. The bulk of his firehouse culinary expertise has been practiced during his tenure there. He was a national finalist in the 2004 Tabasco Cook & Ladder Competition finishing in the top 10 of the nations Firehouse Chef’s, and traveled to New York City to compete in a cook off with his peers. He has also been placed on the “charity” auction block several times to prepare meals for the highest bidder. Tom likes to specialize in Italian and Greek cuisine being of the same heritage, but also enjoys preparing Asian and of course “Good Ole American” foods as well. He concentrates on entrées but also has a few hors d’oeuvres and dessert specialties as well, such as his versions of Bruschetta and Amaretto Cheesecake. For the past year he has been studying the practice of making homemade Italian deli meats and sausages. Tom’s motto: “It’s just cooking, not rocket science, take a chance…..you might like it!” Residing in Chambersburg, PA with his wife JoAnn, twins Jonathan & Katie and “Buddy” their Golden Retriever. Tom enjoys cycling, hunting, fishing, woodworking, raising his children and helping form today’s youth while volunteering with son Jonathan’s Cub Scout pack. Tom can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]
Hi, Tom Popatis, and were here doing our segment on sandwiches, grilled sandwiches. What were going to do right now is probably the simplest, easiest, most basic one of all, the grilled cheese. A lot of people are afraid to cook. They are like, I cant even boil water. Well, you know what, just watch this, its very easy. The trick is, lets keep our heat down, okay. I am going just slightly above half on this, on my dial. So, kind of on the bottom side of medium high is where I am at. Im going to take some butter, Im going to butter my bread. Now, remember, don't put the cheese on the butter side of the bread. The butter side goes out. Im going to flip this over, were going to do this side. A little bit more than that, there we go. Get a nice even coat of butter, just like this, perfect, there we go.
Now, what you do, move this out of the way. Im going to take this, put it on your cutting board, just like that. Were going to put the cheese in here. Im going to use three slices of good American cheese, not that stuff that has a bunch of processed cheese oil stuff. Go to the deli, buy real American cheese, its the best. Thats what makes your best sandwich. Now, remember I said, dont flip this over like that. The butter side goes out, because that is what's going to give us that nice crust on the outside. Im going to take my spatula, come in underneath it, nice hot skillet, and were going to let that start to cook. After a couple of minutes, once we get our temperature up, youre going to hear it start to sizzle a little bit, and once we start to hear that little bit of sizzle, thats when were going to lift the corner and check and see what it looks like, and then we will go from there as far as flipping it over. Also, the cheese is going to start to melt.
So, wait for a couple of minutes, and then were going to give it a flip. After a couple of minutes were going to check this. Were starting to get a little sizzled here. You can start to smell it a little bit. So, were going to check it. I take a look, starting to look really good. Now, I use the Seven Grain Bread, which is typically what I use. You see, how I come under like this, underneath the spatula. Flip it real quick. Got a nice golden crust, that's exactly what you want. Im going to turn my fan on here a little bit. But, you can see how thats a nice even color, and nice even brown on there. The cheese is actually starting to melt. It is sticking to the -- let me back it up here, its actually sticking to the bread, that's what we want. Its looking really good. So, in just about a minute or so this sandwich is going to be done, very quick, very easy. Remember, dont jack your heat up on high. If you jack that heat up on high, what's going to happen is, its going to burn, and the butter is gong to burn, the bread is going to burn, youre not going to have a good sandwich. Keep it to the bottom side of medium high, that way the sandwich cooks nice and slow, heats up nice and evenly, and it doesnt get too, too black as far as burning the butter or burning the bread itself. So, right now I want to take a look here. You could see I got a little bit of smoke coming up from the pan, that's the butter, some of the excess butter in there burning, but were going to just take a pick here and see. What I do is get the spatula in underneath the corner and just kind of give it a lift, and lets see what it does here for us. Thats perfect, its looking good.
You can see, again, nice even color, cheese has started to melt really nice. I am going to give it just a minute on that underside, that will give us a little bit more heat. If you want to, you can take your spatula and you can kind of give it a little help, press it down a little bit, okay. Now, the other thing you can do if you want to do this and not mess up a pan is if youre using your grill, you can actually make these on a grill and then its a true grilled sandwich. Do them outside, do them on the grill, you get those nice grill lines in them. Lets see what were looking like here. This is looking really, really good. See, my color got just a touch browner, and we are about ready to take this off. Yup, I would say thats done. Were going to turn our heat off. Im going to leave my fan on, so I draw some of that smoke out. But were going to take this, bring it over to our cutting board, take that off the heat, and lets see what we have. We should have some nice gooey, gooey cheese in there. Oh yeah, look at that, see how nice that started to melt for us. Im just going to cut a little corner off of here. I want to try a little piece and just see how that turned out. That's a good grilled cheese sandwich.