Monday, November 15, 2010

Grilled Cheese

The thought of gooey cheese oozing from a crusty, buttery sandwich takes me to a happy place.  I've learned of an ingredient that elevates the grilled cheese experience to the upper decks.  That, my friends, is bacon.  This is probably odd news to some who knew me as a relatively long-term vegetarian years ago.  But man, am I converted.  I hold crisp, thick-cut Black Forest bacon rather dear to my heart these days.  The sandwiches described below present two scrumptious opportunities to incorporate bacon into an already great and long-loved classic.

I've got to make a couple shout-outs to ingredients that aid in realizing the full potential of these recipes.  The first is bakery bread, which boosts flavor as well as the awesome crunch factor that seems (at least in my kitchen) next to impossible with the common grocery loaf.  I've used bakery white, sour dough, ciabatta, and various herbed varieties, and they are all great.  The second is a good sharp cheddar, which adds complexity and a nice offset to the other ingredients.  There are tons of other cheeses that make a gorgeous statement melting between two slices of bread (ex: brie, smoked turkey and cranberry conserve from Fall Marathon);  I adore all of them, but today I'm goobing on cheddar.

Martha Stewart offered a grilled cheese tribute with a few interesting variations in her magazine, and the combination of cheddar, bacon and pickles on sour dough just sang to me.  I had some white Vermont cheddar leftover from the apple and cheddar scones which I sliced thinly for the first layer.  Next I added three slices of bacon (um, it was a big sandwich).  These had been cooked for 20ish minutes in a 375 degree oven on a baking rack atop a foil-lined cookie sheet.  I am all about cooking bacon in the oven as opposed to the stove top, as it prevents splatter all over the kitchen and the necessity to flip, as well as keeps the bacon from swimming in the drippings.  The last component to the sandwich was dill stackers.  The bite of vinegar adds a proud "ta-da" in concert with the smoky bacon and rich cheddar.

The next sandwich (lacking a picture...sorry) comes courtesy of Tyler Florence, who wisely adds slices of Granny Smith apples and a touch of dijon mustard to the cheese and bacon combo.  I hesitated on the mustard step when I made these, because I was nervous that it would overpower the apples.  But I'm so glad I followed through, because it took the sandwich to a whole new level.  This is YUMMY, and a really fun lunch to serve to friends along with some veggie chips or sweet potato fries.

I will never turn my back on two American Singles nesting between whole wheat bread, cooked in a non-stick skillet and dunked in a bowl of tomato soup.  It's just fun to change it up every now and again.

Before I scoot, here's a quick note that posts of new creations may become a bit more sporadic as we finish a kitchen renovation.  I'll likely find something to ramble about anyway, but posts may be sans photos. I am planning to post some old favorite Thanksgiving recipes later this week!


Anonymous said...

Oh, how I love creative grilled cheese recipes... maybe some avocado, tomato, and Cabot Habanero cheddar? Yum! Thanks for sharing your ideas :)

Joanna said...

Until I was in my late-teens, probably, this is what I knew a grilled cheese sandwich to be:

2 slices of bread (I guess it was usually grocery store wheat), extra sharp cheddar cheese, a little yellow mustard, a generous sprinkle of brown sugar. Grill with a little butter. Done. OH's so much better than the american cheese version, but I can't get my crazy kids on board...yet. I can't wait to try some of these versions!!

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