One of my favorite childhood meals that has carried over into adulthood is the grilled cheese sandwich. A golden grilled cheese is a glorious treat on a rainy day: two slices of American cheese between two pieces of plain white bread coated with a thin layer of butter or margarine, fried in a cast iron skillet on the stove and voila, I’m transported back to childhood.
While I can certainly appreciate a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with an aged cheddar on artisan bread, my heart still swoons for that simple staple of my childhood.
Is there any sandwich that can hold a candle to the classic grilled cheese? Turns out, there is: the Cheese Frenchee. Here’s a version of the sandwich, courtesy of Don and Millie’s Restaurant, a popular local chain restaurant in Omaha, Lincoln and Bellevue, Nebraska:
If you haven’t had, much less heard of, the Cheese Frenchee, you’ve probably never been to Nebraska — and you have no idea what you’re missing. This quirky comfort food became a favorite of Nebraskans in the 1950s, thanks to restaurant chain King’s Food Host, which had locations in 17 states, mostly in the Midwest. While King’s Food Host vanished from the Nebraskan landscape in the 1970s, the Cheese Frenchee lives on in the hearts and minds (and kitchens) of Cornhuskers.
The Cheese Frenchee has its roots in the ubiquitous grilled cheese sandwich, but it elevates grilled cheese to an entirely new level — it’s battered with an egg and cornflake crumb mixture and then fried.
Outside of Nebraska, the best place to find a Cheese Frenchee is in your own kitchen. Don’t be intimidated by the deep-fried aspect of this beauty. The trick is to let it drain on paper towels for a minute or two and then eat it immediately. It has all the gooey goodness of a traditional grilled cheese with the added satisfying oomph of crunch.
We’ve rounded up a few recipes that pay homage to the original Cheese Frenchee so you can try this amazing sandwich for yourself:
Easy Cheese Frenchee
The State Eats Cheese Frenchee is a no-frills version of the beloved sandwich that uses cornflakes for the signature crunch. For a first-time Cheese Frenchee chef, this is the recipe that will get you from A to mmmm with a minimal number of ingredients.
King’s Classic Cheese Frenchee
At Genius Kitchen, contributor r_mess says, “I got this recipe from a friend of mine who worked at King’s in the 1960s.” This Cheese Frenchee recipe calls for mayonnaise to be spread on the inside of the bread and dipping the sandwich in an egg, milk, flour and salt mixture before thinly coating it with a layer of crushed cornflakes. (The contributor also gives a recipe for a Tuna Frenchee. Because why not?)
No-Fryer Cheese Frenchee
Finally, Pray Cook Blog offers step-by-step instructions for making a Cheese Frenchee, even if you don’t have a fryer at home. It still looks completely delicious:
However you make it, the Cheese Frenchee is a delicious Nebraskan version of a traditional American favorite!
Will you try it?