Whenever I go to a new diner for lunch, I always order one of two things: 1) a hamburger deluxe well done or 2) a tuna melt (no tomatoes). These are my litmus tests.
I absolutely love tuna melts, and I very rarely see anyone else in my circle order them. Perhaps I’m an anomaly on the subject, but they’re just good.
A while back, I was attempting to make a grilled cheese sandwich and thought what it would be like if I put some tuna in it. And, ta da! This tuna melt sandwich was born. Make no mistake about it, you can easily just omit the tuna and have a really rocking and properly cooked, I might add, grilled cheese…and that would be fine. But for those looking for a tad more diner nostalgia (and protein!), give this a shot.
It starts with the tuna…one 5 oz. can, if you please. Plop in a dollop of mayo, crank some pepper in there, and stir.
A note about the tuna: This is just how I like to make my tuna salad. You could totally omit the mayo, or use whatever tuna concoction you like. My only advice is to make sure the tuna is not too moist, or it will just ooze out of the sides and make things very messy. Next, the bread…
One can of tuna will be enough for two sandwiches, so just divide the mixture and spread a thin layer on two slices of bread.
After that, place two slices of cheese on top of the tuna. (I used American cheese, which I know is probably not classic for a tuna melt…but it was all I had.)
(And make sure you eat the last piece of remaining cheese, because a lone slice of cheese without a sandwich to call home isn’t doing anybody any good.)
Now this is where things get weird. Instead of throwing butter in the pan to fry up these sandwiches, I put a VERY light coating of mayo on each slice of bread. Wait, before you judge, let me just say that I was a skeptic too when I first heard about this. I actually saw this in one of Aarti Sequiera’s cooking videos on YouTube way back before she ever hit the Food Network. I was shocked after I tried it, and there’s no way I’d ever go back to using butter to make a grilled cheese. Benefits of mayo vs butter? If you use a very light coating, the resulting sandwich is not as greasy. And think about it, mayo isn’t really anything more than eggs and oil, so the fat in mayo would work the same exact way as butter would. Plus, I prefer to use the Hellmann’s no cholesterol mayo, which makes me feel just a little bit better about things.
Here are my mayo-battered breads, all ready for the pan. Mayo up the first side. Then, once we put these mayo-side down in the pan, we’ll craftily mayo up the other side. If you have an off-set spatula, I highly recommend using it for that step. Otherwise, you can use a regular butter knife like me…and make a mess all over your pan and arms.
Before we light a fire under these puppies, get a dry pan warming over LOW heat. Low heat is very important. These sandwiches don’t cook fast, and you don’t want them to. They need to go low and slow in order for the outside to get nice and brown while the cheese inside gets nice and melty. It took a lot of trial and error to get this system down, so just trust me on this.
Batter ‘em up! Then we wait…
See? See how the cheese is all melty and the underside is nice and golden brown? That’s what you want! OK, flip!
When the other side looks golden brown as well, evacuate, slice, and serve!
Yum. A totally easy Saturday afternoon lunch. I’m all about easy. Enjoy!
Grilled cheese sandwich + tuna melt = yummy!
- 1 5 oz. can of tuna
- 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
- Pepper, to taste
- 4 slices of sandwich bread
- 4 slices of American cheese (or any cheese of your choosing)
- Drain the tuna very well, and place in a bowl. Add mayo about a tablespoon at a time, until you get the desired consistency. Don't make the tuna too moist, or it will become hard to work with later on. Grind in some black pepper to taste, and set aside.
- Next, build the sandwiches. Divide the tuna mixture in half and lay a thin amount on top of two slices of bread. Then to each slice of bread, add two slices of cheese slightly overlapping them. Close it all up with the final piece of bread on top.
- Begin warming a DRY pan over low heat. While that's warming up, lightly coat the top two slices of bread with a very thin coating of mayonnaise, about 1-2 tablespoons per slice. Then, once the pan is warm, carefully lay the sandwiches mayo-side down. As that side starts to brown, lightly coat the bread that's now facing up with a thin coat of mayo, about 1-2 tablespoons.
- It will take a while for the underside of the sandwiches to get golden brown, about 10 minutes or so. Check by carefully lifting up the sandwiches with a spatula. Once brown, gently flip the sandwiches and let them brown on that side for another 10 minutes or so. When both sides of the sandwiches are golden brown and the cheese is nice and melted, remove the sandwiches from the pan, slide them in half, and serve. Caution: they will be HOT, so I'd let them sit on the counter for 5 minutes or so before you dive in.