I’m going to talk today about butterkäse. It’s a German cheese, mild in flavor, soft and smooth in texture, and highly meltable. In short, it’s a perfect sandwich cheese. It’s made in Germany and also in Wisconsin where I grew up. And now that I know how to make my own cheese, it’s made wherever I live as well.
If you’ve never tasted it before, butterkäse is fairly comparable to gouda. It’s a washed curd cheese, which means that some of the whey is removed and replaced with water while it’s being made (so in a sense you are “washing” the curds with water). This process leads to a moist and tender cheese (and good melt-ability). Of the larger, sliceable cheeses that I make, butterkäse is one of my two go-to’s. It’s a slightly more involved process than making tomme cheese, but it has a lovely soft texture that you won’t get with tomme, either.
If you are interested in cheesemaking, I recommend that you check out the recipe. And if you’re new to cheesemaking, we’ve got lots of tutorials on the website to get you started and help you learn the process. And if you have no interest in making cheese, but just want to learn how to make a tasty sandwich, read on!
Butterkäse Grilled Cheese
To make about four sandwiches:
- 8 oz butterkäse cheese (recipe here) or cheese of choice
- 1 vidalia onion, sliced thinly
- 8 slices of homemade sourdough bread (I used birdseed bread, recipe here) or bread of choice
- butter (recipe here)
You are probably familiar with how to make grilled cheese, but here is the process re-capped in case it’s been a while:
- Cook the onion on medium-low heat in about a tablespoon of butter. To caramelize the onions, it will take about 45 minutes of cook-time. If you don’t feel like devoting that much time to a sandwich, you can turn off the heat once they reach translucence. Either way, they’ll still be yummy.
- Layer your sandwich. Butter the outside of your bread, then layer it with a thin slice of cheese, a helping of cooked onions, another layer of cheese, and a slice of bread. Butter the top of your bread.
- Grill it. Cook the sandwiches on medium heat for a few minutes. Once the bottom layer of bread has toasted, it’s time to flip the sandwiches (try not to spill out the innards). Once they’ve been flipped, you can add a lid to your pan to encourage the cheese to melt faster. In a few minutes, your sandwiches will be done.
A simple meal with simple (?) ingredients
These days, I’m a big fan of making simple meals. That’s why we’ve been doing lots of salads lately. And I kind of wanted to say that I’ve been making simple meals with simple ingredients, but then I had to wonder. Is butterkäse a simple ingredient? I mean, it’s simple in the sense that it’s made from only milk and salt and rennet and cheese cultures. But then again, it takes several hours to make and then several weeks to age. I don’t know. And is homemade sourdough a simple ingredient? Sure, you can make sourdough with simply flour, salt, and water. But again, it takes at least 24 hours to make a good sourdough, and it’s all in the technique. What makes an ingredient simple?
I don’t know. But if you’re making ingredients from scratch (and I mean really from scratch), then a meal of grilled cheese sandwiches is nothing to turn up your nose at.
Either way, I hope you enjoy this simple sandwich and give it a shot. And if you haven’t yet made it, maybe this will inspire you to try making some butterkäse cheese.