Friday, July 31, 2015

Tomato Grilled Cheese with Beer and Bacon Marmalade

If you're a subscriber of Garden and Gun magazine (and if you're not, you should be....and not just if you're a Southerner) you couldn't have missed the pic of this mouthwatering sandwich.  Even without reading the accompanying article, I knew this was happening.  And then I found it originated at an Alabama restaurant and that sealed the deal.  I've not been to Acre in Auburn but this would made it a worthwhile trip.  Probably not during football season, but.......

The real magic of this sandwich begins with the Beer and Bacon Marmalade.  If you can, make this a day ahead so everyone in the jar can really get acquainted.  This is rich and sweet and salty and I'm probably just going to constantly keep a jar of this in the fridge.  No, I'm not.  My ass won't allow it, but damn if I don't want to put this on EVERYTHING.

The heirlooms at the farmer's market have been beautiful this summer and this is a perfect vehicle to use them up.  The tomatoes are crucial to balancing out the richness of the cheese and marmalade.

Mr. Buker lurved this bad boy.....I only know because he kept moaning after every bite.  Declared it "holy shit amazing".  Doesn't get better than that.

Here's the recipe:

Tomato Grilled Cheese 
with Beer and Bacon Marmalade

Acre in Auburn, Alabama

makes 1 sandwich

2 tbsp softened unsalted butter, divided
2 slices white bread, preferable thick
1/4 cup Beer and Bacon Marmalade (recipe follows)
2 slices American Cheese (don't hate....that melty goodness is crucial here)
3 slices heirloom tomato

Spread butter onto one side of each piece of bread.  Place a cast-iron  skillet over medium heat and toast the buttered bread.  Remove from the skillet and place it on a cutting board, toasted side up.  Slather the marmalade over the toast, and then stack the cheese and tomato on top.  Put the sandwich together and spread the soft outside with the remaining butter.  Return it to the skillet and toast until golden and cheese is gooey.  Serve with beer!

Beer and Bacon Marmalade

12 oz. smoked bacon
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 1/2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. sherry vinegar
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup beer, preferably a porter or stout
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Cook bacon slices in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until crispy....about 5-6 minutes...and then remove them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Reserve 2 tbsp of bacon fat in the pan, and add the shallots.  Cook them over medium heat until they begin to brown (about 3-5 minutes), and then add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds before adding brown sugar, honey and both vinegars.  Simmer until reduced by half, and then add coffee and beer and continue to simmer until the mixture is reduced to a syrup-like consistency (about 10-12 minutes).  Remove from the stove, season with salt and red pepper and allow to cool.  Crush or chop bacon into small pieces and fold them into coffee-beer mixture.  Store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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