Friday, May 11, 2012

Bacon and Tomato Grilled Cheese

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? – April 26, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Bacon and Tomato Grilled Cheese recipe originally published by Food Network: 50 Grilled Cheeses insert – April 2012.

I get a lot of recipes that are salad and/or sandwich-like and very tasty looking.  I have a couple of issues… not with the recipes, but with my cooking schedule.  First, I think they are more appropriate for lunch and I find it hard to cook for just myself – even if the recipe is for a single serving.  Second, my husband has been working a later shift that extends past dinner into the evening and sandwiches often don’t keep well.  Last, I don’t feel these are dinner recipes.

That’s not to say they aren’t, I just happen to look for certain qualities in my dinner meals and sandwiches don’t necessarily pass my muster.  Again, not the recipe’s fault… just my neurosis.

Then life took a slightly unfortunate turn in terms of husband’s employment.  A situation now rectified, but it gave me an opportunity to start making lunch for us.  This was one of the first recipes I stumbled upon after he was home for lunch during the week.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Bacon and Tomato Grilled Cheese
I didn’t have a picture to compare my grilled cheese to since this was an insert in Food Network’s April issue.  They have some pictures, including a classic sandwich (as shown below), but nothing for me to compare mine against.  That being said…

This is probably the best looking grilled cheese I’ve ever made.  The bread is perfectly toasted.  The cheese is completely melted.  And I give full credit to the recipe writers.  Without following their instructions, I probably would have ended up with burnt bread or un-melted cheese.

Thank you Food Network for teaching me the best way to make a grilled cheese sandwich.  I honestly mean that.

© Food Network
See what I mean?  I almost copied their sandwich, even though it’s a classic grilled cheese with no extras between the bread.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – I know what you’re thinking… EH for a grilled cheese?  I totally agree with you, but if you have to cook the bacon, you’re going to have at least a little mess.  The greasy kind.  A kind I care not make.

Start-to-Finish Time: UNDER 30 MINUTES – And that is even with making the bacon.  However, it is making one sandwich, so if you don’t have a pan large enough to place multiple sandwiches in it with plenty of space to flip and maneuver, you’ll have to add about 6 minutes extra per sandwich.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – Again, you’re thinking, “for a grilled cheese?”  Well you do have to slice a tomato and without a good knife, there’s a chance, no matter how slight.  Also, making bacon has popping grease and it is part of the prep, technically.  I just gotta be honest.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – Yeah, it has taken me a long time to get a nice golden toast on my bread, but it is an easy dish to make, even if it isn’t perfect.

OverallSORRY HONEY, NO LEFTOVERS – Truth be told, I had sent my husband on a quick errand while I was making the sandwiches.  I made one and started the second while I was photographing and making notes.  I fully intended on waiting for my husband to return home before I started eating (besides the first taste so I can see what I think of it for my notes). 

Yeah… I finished it before he got home. 

Then I contemplated eating the one I made for him.  I am not necessarily proud of this, I simply want to point out the tastiness you're going to be dealing with.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Servings: 1 sandwich
Timing: None Given

It’s pretty obvious that the serving size is accurate.  In terms of the timing, the cook time is 3-5 minutes per side for the Classic Grilled Cheese, which is pretty close to what I got.  Here’s how my timing worked out:
  • Prep: 12 minutes
  • Hands-on Time: 2 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 9 minutes (and 6 minutes for each subsequent sandwich)
  • Total Time: 23 minutes
Let me tell you, if it took me an hour, it would well be worth the time.  This is one yummy sandwich.

Nutritional Information:
None given

Food Network is pretty good about always giving nutritional information, but this was an insert to their magazine.  I’m not holding it against them for not trying to cram the data in for 50 sandwiches.  So, I computed the nutritional information using my ingredients and here’s what came out:
  • Calories 550.0
  • Total Fat 54.6 g
  • Saturated Fat 19.3 g
  • Cholesterol 95.5 mg
  • Sodium 813.1 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 28.7 g
  • Dietary Fiber 0.2 g
  • Sugars 2.0 g
  • Protein 22.2 g
Ordinarily I’d be repulsed by these numbers.  54 grams of fat?  Seriously?  You know what?  I don’t care… this was one tasty sandwich.

Changes denoted by red text

© You Want Me to Cook?
Bacon and Tomato Grilled Cheese - ingredients
2 slices country white bread

2 slices cheddar, monterey jack, Swiss or Colby-Jack cheese

3 slices crisp low-sodium bacon

1 slice tomato

1 tablespoon salted butter, divided

Fit Wash

Ingredient Notes:
White Bread – Yeah, wheat bread would have been a healthier option, but I wanted the white bread.  I’m allowed to splurge every once in a while, right?

Colby-Jack Cheese
  • I looked at the options and went a different direction.  It wasn’t because I don’t like the choices I was given, but because I had a coupon for the Kraft Big slices and I wanted Colby Jack.
  • Ways to make it healthier: Swiss is the best option of healthy cheese, but you can go with reduced-fat cheddar or Monterey jack and it will be fine.
Bacon – The original recipe called for regular bacon, but I’ve kind of trained myself to always buy the low-sodium option.  A good thing too because the sodium of this dish was kind of high.

Butter – I’ve actually never bought salted butter.  I decided I was going to give it a try for this recipe.  I’m so glad I did because I think it really added something to it.

Fit Wash – Although you can use water to wash the tomato thoroughly, I like using this citrus based wash to get it extra clean.  It always seems less waxy when I’m using it on fruit.  Yup, remember tomatoes are fruit.

Equipment Needed:

© You Want Me to Cook?
Bacon and Tomato Grilled Cheese - equipment
Small Skillet
Paper Towel
Cutting Board
Sharp Knife
Cast-Iron or Nonstick Skillet

Equipment Notes:
Small Skillet and Tongs – Your bacon making tools!  I find tongs are the best way to flip bacon without shredding it.

Spatula – You’ll probably notice I am using my Spiderman spatula.  He oversaw the entire cooking process and protected the fruits of my labor.  Sorry, I just happen to love this spatula which was a gift from a friend.


(1)   Before prepping any other ingredients, preheat your skillet and begin cooking the bacon.

(2)  While bacon is cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients. Do not continue to the next step until the bacon is finished.
You need the bacon to put in the sandwich, so unfortunately you have to wait until it’s done.
(3)  Once bacon is finished, remove to a plate with paper towels to drain.

(4)  Preheat a second skillet for cooking the grilled cheese over medium-low heat.
You want the pan to be hot enough that the butter starts to immediately melt.  I’d say about 3-5 minutes is a good amount of time.
(5)  Melt half of the butter in the sandwich skillet.
You’re going to need more butter once the first side is cooked, but you don’t need a lot.
(6)  Place the one slice of cheese onto a piece of bread, then layer the bacon and tomato with the other slice of cheese on top. Finish with the other slice of bread.

(7)  Press the sandwich slightly and place it in the skillet. Cook until golden on the bottom, 3 to 6 minutes.
The first sandwich took me 6 minutes on the first side.  Probably because I needed to let the pan heat up a little more.  Once it got to the point that it toasted the first side, it only took me 3 minutes per side after that.  Just be aware of (a) that the first side of the first sandwich might take longer and (b) to be very careful to not overcook the other sides.
(8)  Flip, adding the remainder of the butter to the pan letting it melt before placing the sandwich back in, and cook until the other side is golden and the cheese melts, 3 to 5 more minutes.
Don’t worry about it taking too much time to melt.  The pan is going to be hot enough that it will melt almost immediately.
Let me tell you how much I loved this sandwich.  I usually don’t like tomato on my sandwich.  Don’t get me wrong… I love ketchup.  I LOVE tomato sauce.  I even love tomato juice over ice!  For some reason, unknown to man, I HATE it on sandwiches.

However, I have decided to try new things and thought I was going to make it the way the recipe writers intended.

OH DEAR GOD it was good.  I now am going to try tomato on other sandwiches… but never burgers.  I will stay steadfast in that.

If I were going to change anything… oh no, I wouldn’t change a single thing.  This was one of those sandwiches that was worth the calories, fat and sodium.

If you try making this grilled cheese, I can guarantee you… Happy Cooking!!!

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