PAM PATTERSON | LEON, KANSAS
"Dining out was a rare and special occasion when I was a child during the sixties in Lincoln, Nebraska. A local favorite family restaurant was King's Food Host. The novelty of this restaurant was the telephone at each booth. You placed your order by giving it to the hostess over the phone. In a time when many households had only one phone, having a telephone tableside was very thrilling! The kids' indisputable menu favorite was King's take on grilled cheese, a deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich, served with a side of french fries or onion rings." But a Frenchee has more to it than that. It's a grilled cheese sandwich made with a touch of mayo and cut into triangles, which are battered, rolled in a crunchy coating, and deep fried. Who first came up with the concept is uncertain, but it is clear it won King's restaurants hordes of devoted patrons. (King's Food Host USA, now no longer in business, had at its peak around 160 restaurants in 17 states, mostly in the Midwest.) Adds Pam: "After having children of my own and King's Food Host was a distant memory, I came across a recipe that attempted to replicate this childhood treat. It remains a family favorite to this day."
--1 1/2 sleeves Ritz crackers (50 crackers), pulsed in a food processor to coarse crumbs
--2/3 cup milk
--2 large eggs
--1/2 cup mayonnaise
--8 slices hearty white sandwich bread
--6 (3/4-ounce) slices American cheese
3-4 quarts vegetable oil
1. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the cracker crumbs in a shallow dish. Whisk the milk and eggs together in a medium bowl.
2. Spread 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread. Arrange 11/2 slices of the cheese on 4 of the slices of bread and top with the remaining 4 slices bread, with the mayonnaise side facing the cheese. Cut each sandwich diagonally into quarters.
3. One at a time, dip the sandwich quarters into the egg mixture, then coat with the cracker crumbs, pressing to adhere. Place on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
4. Pour the oil into a large Dutch oven until it measures 2 inches deep. Heat the oil to 375 degrees over medium-high heat. Lay half of the chilled sandwich quarters in the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer the sandwich quarters to a large, paper towel-lined plate to drain briefly. Repeat with the remaining sandwich quarters. Serve.
Notes from America's Test Kitchen These fried mini-grilled cheeses were a test kitchen favorite at first bite--not to mention, they just look like they're going to be fantastic! Pam's recipe needed only a single minor tweak, just a little extra cheese to cover the bread. The recipe didn't specify a cracker type for the coating, but we favored Ritz. We liked to dip the sandwiches in ketchup (which, we were told by a genuine Frenchee fanatic, is how she ate them growing up in Oklahoma).