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.
REC: Grilled Cheese with Pig Jam
2 slices of bread
3 T soft goat cheese
1 T pig jam (see note)
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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…