This grilled cheese in Tenaya Darlington's new cheese cookbook was the creation of a longtime cheesemonger at Di Bruno Bros. Stacked high with salty bacon, earthy-sweet Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, and a fried egg—it's certainly not for the faint of heart. These show-off ingredients may catch your eye first, but it's the thinly sliced red onions and schmear of maple jelly (or syrup) that bring the sandwich into delicate balance, transforming it from a hung over mistake to a comforting lunch I'd easily make again.
Why I picked this recipe: Can't skip grilled cheese when cooking from a cheese book, and any sandwich with Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is sure to be a winner.
What worked: This sandwich hits each tantalizing sweet, salty, and fatty flavor note with gusto.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: If you're cooking bacon for the express purpose of making this sandwich, you might as well take advantage of all of that bacon fat in the pan and use it to fry the grilled cheese. (Why use butter when you've got pork fat on hand?) I couldn't get my hands on maple jelly, but maple syrup worked just fine. The fried egg on top is awesome but not necessary; if you're not up for it, the sandwich is still great without it.
Reprinted with permission from Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings by Tenaya Darlington. Copyright 2013. Published by Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Makes 1 sandwich
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:20 minutes
- 2 large slices ciabatta or crusty white bread
- 2 tablespoons unslated butter, softened and divided
- 3 ounces Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, thinly sliced or grated
- 1 slice purple onion, separated into rings
- 3 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
- 2 to 3 teaspoons maple jelly (or substitute maple syrup)
- 1 large egg
Warm a skillet on low heat. Butter two slices of bread. Flip one over and layer cheese, onion, and bacon on top. Place it in the skillet, butter-side down.
Flip over the other slice of buttered bread and spoon maple jelly onto it. Set it on top of the open-faced sandwich in the skillet, jelly side down.
The secret to a good grilled cheese is cooking it on low so that the cheese melts, so don’t rush things. After about 8 minutes, when the cheese is melted, flip the sandwich over. Don’t worry if some of the cheese crumbles fall out. They’ll crispen the edges of the bread.
Start a second skillet, a small one, over medium heat. Put a dab of butter into it, and when it melts, crack an egg into the pan. Cook it on medium heat for about 3 minutes for a sunny-side up egg. Flip it if you want to fry it completely.
Plate the grilled cheese and top it with the fried egg. If you want to pick up the sandwich with your hands, slide the egg inside.
Note: For a crowd, make these into open-faced sandwiches and toast them under the broiler. Add a sunny-side up egg to each one at the end. For best results, start with toasted bread; top it with bacon, onion, then cheese. Broil it until the cheese bubbles, then remove the pan from the broiler. Plate each sandwich, then add a spoonful of maple jelly, followed by a fried egg.