Australia’s most loved menu item?
Many places in the world have their own version of the humble toastie, from the Mexican quesadilla to the French croque monsieur, the Welsh rarebit to Middle Eastern flatbreads. But Australian toasties (and jaffles) are certainly experiencing a bit of a comeback in recent years as venues turn to the gooey, simple nostalgia of melted cheese and bread.
Chef Peter Gilmore was the first to offer a gourmet toastie, a few years ago, with five different gourmet cheeses and black truffle (for $22!). Now, top-notch toasties are popping up all over the country in fine dining restaurants as well as hole-in-the-wall outlets. For example, Scott Picket’s brand new venue Estelle sells a $14 Wagyu bolognaise and kimchi toastie. There are even a number of specialty cafes that serve toasties exclusively like Toasta & Co in West Melbourne and Melt Brothers in Brisbane’s CBD.
So, is the nostalgic blend of gourmet ingredients, white bread and a healthy dose of cheese going to bump the burger off its long-held top spot as Australia’s most loved menu item? We explore the must-haves when it comes to the perfect toastie.
Of course, we might be a bit biased, but we think a toastie is nothing without good bread. It is crucially important you get it right so the rest of the toastie doesn’t fall apart, go soggy, or be a little underwhelming.
Try to avoid: using the freshest bread you have – a day old is perfect – to stop fillings oozing out. And avoid anything with a thick crust on the outside as it doesn’t fry to crispy and golden as well.
Mal Gill’s top tip: Spread mayonnaise on the outside of the sandwich before toasting. It browns more evenly and doesn’t burn as fast as butter.
As tempting as super rich cheeses might be, remember to mix only a small amount in with a milder, melty cheese. We recommend mozzarella, cheddar, provolone or gruyere as the base and then you can add something to boost the flavour like blue, Monterey jack or parmesan.
Try to avoid: anything that is going to separate and create clumpy bits – you need to keep that vital stretchiness.
The classic ham and cheese toastie is always a hit but it pays to think outside the box with flavour combinations. After all, almost anything can be put between two slices of bread. Keep it simple – less is more with toasted sandwiches – and create your own signature combinations.
Some of our favourites are leftover stews from the previous night service such as mushroom ragout or beef stroganoff, spaghetti bolognese is always a hit, as are crispy roast offcuts.
Our tip: always include a pickle. It cuts through the richness of the cheese.
Try to avoid: using sliced tomato in your toastie as it is a sure recipe for a piping hot mess on your customer’s lap.
Toasties can be whipped up in a frying pan, under the grill, in a sandwich press or using a traditional jaffle maker. No matter which you use in your kitchen, always remember to preheat it properly so you get a nice crispy outside.
Our tip: if you’ve got it, a cast iron press cooks evenly and crisps a lot more than regular presses.
Try to avoid: squishing the ingredients unnecessarily.
Have you got a go-to toastie recipe? Or are you considering adding one to your menu? Get in touch with us today to talk about our range of breads perfect for melting cheese between.