There's an inherent structural problem with a bagel sandwich: Eaten properly, with one's hands, of course, there is an inevitable falloff of seeds. Half of those poppy, sesame and even browned onion bits always seem to end up on the plate—or one's lap. (The struggle is real.)
Enter the inverted-bagel grilled cheese sandwich situation at Sadelle's in New York, where the team takes one of baker Melissa Weller's chewy and small-ish bagels, slices it in half, flips it inside out, sandwiches layers of American and Muenster cheese in the middle, and then throws it onto a griddle for toasting and melting. The result is dripping with cheese that clings to all of those seeds.
The idea came from business partner and co-owner of the Major Food Group empire of restaurants, Jeff Zalaznick, Weller says. Although he's not a chef, when the team was developing their menu, "he had a lot of thoughts about bagels and bagel sandwiches. . . . One of his bagel pet peeves was losing all of those seeds." So much so that he dragged out a panini press one day while the team was menu testing above the then-still-open Torrisi restaurant in Nolita and made the grilled cheese for the group.
"He was very settled on the idea that it had to be American cheese, not fancy," she says (specifically, Zalaznick just said no to Gruyère). Because "Muenster's both lowbrow and highbrow," it fit, Weller adds. And it melts well—the key to any great grilled cheese. The idea stuck (and so did those seeds).
Though the dish is on the breakfast and lunch menu at Sadelle's, it's good at any time of the day, even eaten with day-old bagels standing up late at night. We may have already done just that—and we're not ashamed of it.
Everything Bagel Grilled Cheese
Recipe adapted from Melissa Weller, Sadelle's, New York, NY
Yield: 1 grilled cheese
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
1 everything bagel, halved horizontally
2 slices (1 ounce) American cheese
2 slices (1 ounce) Muenster cheese
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1. On a cutting board, place one half of the bagel cut-side down. Layer the American and Muenster cheeses over the bagel half, alternating slices. Top with the other half of the bagel, seed-side down, and press lightly.
2. In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Cook the bagel, weighed with a sandwich press or another clean skillet, until the bottom side is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the sandwich, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, and cook until golden brown and the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and slice in half, then serve.