Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon Apple Jam

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon Apple Jam
As fun as it is to try new things and get a little adventurous in the kitchen, there's nothing quite so comforting like coming back to a classic, even if you end up dressing it up a bit. I'm certainly no stranger to the grilled cheese sandwich. As a kid, I can remember sitting at the kitchen table, wearing my She-Ra t-shirt as my Mom stood over the stove and made me a grilled cheese sandwich. It was pure perfection: two pieces of American cheese on Wonderbread, the outsides of the bread slathered with a smears of butter and fried up in a hot pan until crispy on the outside and melty on the inside. Since then I've graduated to more "grown-up" versions consisting of varying imported cheeses and fancy condiments, but it's still a classic. Similar to pizzas, burgers, paninis and tacos, the grilled cheese is a blank canvas that's just waiting to be painted with flavor and variety. To celebrate the humble, versatile and oh so delicious grilled cheese sandwich, there is now a whole month dedicated to it - National Grilled Cheese Month, which just so happens to be April. (If that isn't justification enough to create a new grilled cheese recipe, I just don't know what is.)

At its core, a grilled cheese is cheese sandwiched between two pieces of buttered bread and toasted until crispy on the outside and smooth and melty on the inside. As mentioned, the options are endless but in my opinion, one shouldn't stray too far from that basic bread and cheese combo. That being said, it's a hard balance; if you throw too much into it, it becomes a panini and you lose sight of the main ingredients that make it what it is. When I took to my kitchen, I kept this in mind and wanted to only select ingredients that would elevate the cheese, without downplaying it or worse, masking it.

Bacon Apple Jam
To start, I spiked the classic combination of apples and onions with bacon and hard apple cider and let it all caramelize way down until it was thick and jammy. To make the sandwich, I spread a thin layer of the sweet and salty jam on both sides and then layered slices Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese. For a little change of pace, instead of using butter I used Dijon mustard to coat the outsides of the bread, which not only provided a welcome tangyness but also gave the sandwich a bright golden hue when fried up so crispy that it almost crackles when you bite into it. The rich sweetness of the jam compliments the sharp flavor of the cheddar without overpowering it, resulting in a rich and hearty tasting sandwich.

Special thanks to Cabot Cheese for sponsoring this post and inspiring me to create a sandwich to celebrate this exciting month! PS, did you know that next month is National Burger Month?...watch out kids, it's going to be big!

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon Apple Jam

- 2 pieces bread (I prefer Sourdough or pumpernickel but any rustic bread will do)
- Dijon mustard - enough to thinly coat one side of each piece of bread
- Lots and lots of Cabot Extra Sharp cheese (do I really have to provide a measurement here? I trust you'll do the right thing..)
- 1 strip of crispy bacon, crumbled and reserved from Bacon Apple Jam recipe
- 2 TBS Bacon Apple Jam (recipe follows)

Coat the outside of each piece of bread with Dijon mustard. On the inside, spoon the Bacon Apple jam on the inside sides of the bread. Add cheese and bits of bacon. Fry up sandwich on a hot, cast iron skillet (a hot frying pan also works) until the bread is crisp and the cheese is melted through. Serve immediately.

Bacon Apple Jam:
- 3 pieces of bacon, fat reserved
- 2 medium sized onions, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 TBS Dijon mustard
- 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
- 1 bottle hard apple cider, divided
- 1/4 cup dried apple slices, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste

Fry bacon in a skillet until crispy, remove pieces from the bacon fat (be sure to reserve this) and set aside on paper towels to drain. Once cool, crumble bacon. Using the reserved bacon fat, slowly caramelize the onions until reduced in size and golden brown. While the onions are caramelizing, soak the dried and chopped apple slices in half the bottle of hard cider until they plump up. Combine the apple slices and cider mixture along with the remaining bottle of cider with the caramelized onions. Add the mustard, vinegar and brown sugar to the pot. Turn the heat up to medium high and stirring every so often to make sure it doesn't burn on the bottom, reduce the mixture until very thick and jammy. 


Carolyn said...

Wow, this so caught my eye because hello awesome flavour combination!

burgerboy said...

mustard on the bread? Pretty fantastic idea!

In and Around Town said...

That sounds amazing! Love that flavor combination.

Wendy said...

WOWIE. That bacon apple jam would be great on more than just grilled cheese (though of course, I'm a huge grilled cheese fan!). You do the Cabot farm families proud! Thank you!

Megan said...

That sounds absolutely delicious! Bacon, cheese... sign me up!

Anonymous said...

oh no i wish i hadnt seen this! now I will only think of bacon jam for the rest of my life!

vanillasugar said...

oh my gosh woman! that jam! my goodness must make that one.

Elizabeth said...

This looks friggin delicious. I want it now.

Foo said...

This looks delicious! Can't wait to try making it.

Jen said...

OMG that jam looks amazing. I need some of that in my life right about now!

baobabs said...

bacon jam!!! yum!!! I never tried that before!

Shannon said...

bacon apple jam? bacon apple jam? i must make this... it's a good thing i have some bacon at home :) and cheddar! match made in heaven!

Christine's Pantry said...

Hi! I always did like grilled cheese sandwich. I also grow up on grilled cheese. But I have never heard of bacon apple jam. Sounds good.


Boston Food Diary said...

Dude- I dont know HOW I missed this....BACON APPLE JAM? Seriously- awesome. Sounds amazingly delicious....and looks fantastic :-)

Kerstin said...

I'm drooling on my keyboard, bacon apple jam in a grilled cheese?!? Um, yes please!

Rainwater tanks said...

It is a good post. I am so happy with Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon Apple Jam recipe. Its so yummy recipe with great taste.

Driving Unlicensed said...

There are varieties of sandwiches available. I like the cheese sandwich so much. I like this grilled cheese sandwich with bacon apple jam.

Alex Staff said...

Now that's a fine breakfast meal for bacon and cheese lovers out there! The toasty exterior of bread and the creamy filling of bacon apple jam creates a fine twist from the usual breakfast style and, most importantly, it's easy to prepare!

Unlocking iPhone Software said...

Wow ! Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon Apple Jam. I feeling yummy and its looks so tasty. I can not controlling myself. I love grilled cheese sandwich.

Nicole @sugarcoatedsisters said...

HOLY moly this sounds so good! I'm not a meat eater anymore, but I'm sure my family would LOVE this. Such a good idea-- you're so creative!

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