The Best Kind Of Bread For A Deep-Fried Cheese Frenchee

Nebraska may have gifted the world with the inventions of Kool-Aid and the Reuben sandwich, but there are some additional culinary delights that have, surprisingly, had a harder time gaining mass appeal past the state borders. These include the Hot Pocket-like unofficial state food known as the Runza sandwich as well as the ooey, gooey deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich called the Cheese Frenchee. 

A Cheese Frenchee isn't just any old grilled cheese, however. This is the mother of all grilled cheeses, a sandwich that dares to omit the "grilled" part of the recipe altogether for deep-fried goodness. Because it's so hearty, the delicious sandwich needs a bread that can really hold up in the cooking process. So, even though we're talking about a delicacy of Nebraska, Texas toast really comes in handy if you want to make this delight at home.

Another big tip: Instead of placing the bread slices on a buttered pan, a Cheese Frenchee is even better when it's soaked in a batter of whipped egg, milk, flour, and salt, and then coated in cornflakes. Of course, at the end of this prep comes the deep fryer, the essential part of this Cornhusker specialty.

The history of the Cheese Frenchee

The first spotting of the Cheese Frenchee goes back to the 1950s, when a post-war, suburbanizing America was becoming intimately familiar with greasy roadside eats. King's Food Host, which opened in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1955 by business partners James King and Larry Price, served up traditional drive-in options like burgers and shakes alongside whackier fare that amounted to early experiments in deep-frying. 

The joint's claim to fame was the Cheese Frenchee, which exploded in local popularity to become a source of Nebraskan pride. Unfortunately, once King's went public in 1969 and was sold to investors, it soon went under. Even an expanded menu of deep-fried  spin-offs that included Pizza Frenchees, Hot Dog Frenchees, and Tuna Sandwich Frenchees wasn't enough to save it.

Today, the original Cheese Frenchee recipe still lives on in, however — in Nebraska at spots like the small chain restaurant Don & Millie's, with locations in Lincoln and Omaha, who serves the classic Cheese Frenchee complete with a crusty outer layer of fried cornflakes. In a strange yet delicious fast food crossover, the Nebraska Mexican-themed chain Amigos/King's Classic serves up a competing version of the sandwich, substituting cornflakes with crushed cracker crumbs. But, you can also make this treasured classic meal at home.

The finest Frenchee can be made in your own kitchen

Both of the restaurants mentioned above use thick, powerful Texas toast to make the Cheese Frenchee, cementing the pick of bread for your at-home versions. Texas toast can withstand all the soaking in the egg batter and, later, the oil bath in the deep fryer. Any other choice of bread will likely have your Frenchee falling apart before you get a chance to take a bite. 

To began making your sandwich, first cut off the crust so that it can fry evenly and then slice the bread into triangles for more bite-sized portions, just the way it's served in Nebraska. Crushing your crust toppings into a fine crumble is also vital, although be sure to leave at least some larger pieces in the mix so that the texture is still crunchy.

It's also recommended to drain your Cheese Frenchee after frying it, but don't leave it draining too long. Instead, serve this sandwich almost immediately so that it's still hot and melty and tempting to bite into fresh out of the fryer. Air frying also works if you want to dial back on the oil, but just keep in mind that this method places it far and away from a true traditional Cheese Frenchee. 

When ready, pair your deep-fried Frenchee with some tomato sauce for dipping, and you can also experiment with ingredients inside the sandwich like diced meat or veggies.