Bacon Jam and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

It came to my attention last night that several things I thought to be universal are not.  My childhood experience of watching the Monkeys and having a grilled cheese sandwich and Campbell’s tomato soup are not everyone’s childhood memories, yes for many, but not for everyone.  I was blathering on and on about how great my grilled cheese sandwich was yesterday when I realized that the party to whom I was speaking had never actually made one.  Are there others out there who do not know the joy of the simple grilled cheese sandwich?  This cannot continue!!

And, for those of you who do share, to my mind, my commonplace culinary background, to pique your interest I offer you a twist upon your grilled cheese sandwich repertoire.

Bacon Jam.  Or Pig Jam as we are now calling it.

The addition of pig jam into any grilled cheese sandwich elevates it to a peak unlike the lofty air at Everest.  Or at least Annapurna.

For Christmas a dear dear friend S___ gave me three whole jars of bacon jam, and the first one is almost gone and I *have* been practicing a great deal of restraint, despite what you might have read here or on Twitter.

Mmmm, amazing

REC: Grilled Cheese with Pig Jam

2 slices of bread
butter
3 T soft goat cheese
1 T pig jam (see note)

First, place a skillet on the stove but do not turn on the burner.  One one slice of the bread, spread the pig jam.
Spread the first slice thickly with bacon jam
(sad to see how empty that jar is.)

For this sandwich yesterday I used a potato bread with oats, a grocery store staple and a departure from my usual 29,000 grain bread (but it was on sale!).

On the other slice of bread, spread the goat cheese.
And then spread the second slice with goat cheese

My cheese was rather cold and therefore crumbly. However, it really doesn’t matter. If you would prefer the more traditional cheddar cheese, be sure the slices are nice and thick and that the entire piece of bread is covered but no cheese hangs over the edge.

Place the bacon-spread slice on top of the cheese spread slice, and then generously butter the top of the bread thusly.
Put the bacon jam spread side on top of the cheese

I like unsalted butter, but that’s just me. Please do not use margarine or other spreads. If you cannot handle a little butter then just don’t make this sandwich… Unless you are using duck fat, hmmm, let me think about that!!

Place the sandwich in the pan, buttered side down, and turn on the heat to medium. Slowly the pan will heat, melting the butter under the bread and toasting to a perfect golden brown. Meanwhile, butter the top of the sandwich.

New Message

As you can see in this picture a few crumbs of the goat cheese slid out when I placed the sandwich in the pan. I just tucked them back inside before buttering the top. Also, in the corner of the picture you can see my pot of tomato soup, which I had with my sandwich.

When the bottom of the sandwich was crispy and browned, I flipped it over and browned the other side, which takes just a minute or two.
Flip the sandwich over to toast the other side

Then, onto a plate and slice it into quarters.
Cut the toasted sandwich in quarters

I tipped up one quarter so you can see the oozy cheese and the rich tangy pig jam. Here is another qualifier of my childhood: the sandwich has to be cut into triangles rather than into squares. Which way do you like your sandwich cut?  My rationale back then, and today, is that the pointy ends are better for dunking into the tomato soup. And that is what it is all about, the dunking.

Now, a word about the pig jam.

A marvelous place in Seattle called Skillet has been making this concoction for a few years. I heard about it a few years back and have been dying to try it and it was everything and more I had hope for. Rich, tangy, bacony, oniony… It’s hard to now imagine life without bacon jam.

A fun anecdote, the other day a friend was over and I showed her the pig jam and we stood there in the kitchen, not speaking but just making nom nom noises and crunching the pig jam on baked pita crackers.  I was fortunate to be on Twitter when @meatmaven shared her own recipe.  What a kind heart!  What generosity!  What an amazing recipe!!  Thank you, Tatiana, from the bottom of my heart.  Here is what she tweeted:

1/2lb good bacon, chop & cook slow on lowest heat, at least 30min, til brown but not crispy. Remove bacon, reserve.

add 4 L red onions, diced, to bacon fat. Cook on lowest heat at least 1 hour. Chop bacon in cuisinart, add back to reduced onions.

Add maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt & pepper. Spread on anything (or everything). Store in fridge if there’s any left.

I casually mentioned I had a recipe to my pal for pig jam and with a slight bit of pleading (well, none actually!), I emailed these three tweets to her.  I adore her for promptly going home and making some.  The next day we went marketing together.  We conspired to have a taste test, so I brought along the pita chips and my jar of bacon jam and she brought her jar with a fork.  We sat in the parking lot, vulching for the next open spot, eating bacon jam out of her jar and my jar and discussing in fine detail the differences between home made and Skillet made, like winemakers of old over a barrel of fine Cabernet.

The world works in mysterious ways and perhaps it was no accident that we had to wait at least 20 minutes for a parking space.  But the delay afforded us ample opportunity for our taste test and to consume most of the bacon jam in both pots.  For a moment I felt like offering some to the gal in the car behind us, who was waiting for a second spot to open up, but we were covered in crumbs, knitting projects in various stages and it just didn’t feel like the right time to effect an introduction.

My friend has a tale of her own to tell about her pig jam and I will be sure let you know when it is ready on our alternate blog site.

I strongly encourage you to either buy or make some pig jam and to make a sandwich promptly.  Trust me, it will change your feelings about grilled cheese sandwiches forever…

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9 responses to “Bacon Jam and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

  1. Holy cow, that sounds amazing. Need to try my hand at bacon jam.

  2. bacon jam? i am soooooooo there! did you eat a bacon marshmallow at #fancyfood?

  3. OMG, Heather this is a must have! I can’t wait to try it. And btw, I’m a grill cheese and tomato soup person too. Mom *always* made it when I was sick.

  4. Oh and forgot to add — how did the comparison come out on recipe vs. jar? Were there any resulting thoughts on the amounts of maple syrup and apple cider vinegar to be used?

    • Hi Maria,

      Oh thank you! Now about the taste-off, Skillet’s bacon jam uses maple syrup and apple cider vinegar whereas A__ modified @MeatMaven’s recipe and used a small squirt of honey and generous glugs of balsamic vinegar, which has a sweetness of its own. The Skillet version has more onions and a distinct tang and A___’s was more deeply sweet and meaty. I have a jar and a half left of Skillet’s then I will get down and seriously start testing and measuring and let you know! Meantime, if you try it, please let me know what you did!

      Sent from my iPad Mini

  5. Wow – I am now starving – will be staying up late to make pig jam!!!!

    Life is GOOD!!!!!

    • Life with grilled cheese sandwiches is good, and with pig jam life is *fantastic*! Hopefully after you make some you will know this too. Please do let me know if you try it!

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