Grilled cheese is the definition of food bliss. Everyone has a favorite variation or topping but truly, it is a sandwich for the ages. My favorite version, this tomato bacon jam grilled cheese, combines smoky bacon, rich cheese and plump tomatoes for an out of this world sandwich.
It makes perfect sense that there would be an entire month dedicated to all things grilled cheese. Much like apple pie, I venture to say it is America’s favorite sandwich. Just think of it. If you ponder grilled cheese for a minute, you’ll conjure up memories from childhood where this sandwich made its appearance. Maybe you were sick and your mom made you a classic white American grilled cheese sandwich, cut into triangles and served with a side of tomato soup for dipping. Maybe you threw some bacon on yours for an extra treat.
I remember my first experience with a croque monsieur, essentially a fancy French grilled cheese sandwich. My French class traveled to New York City to take in a viewing of Les Miserables on Broadway. We drove four hours on a school bus and, needless to say, were all starving when we arrived in the Big Apple. Our teacher booked us reservations at a seedy little restaurant that claimed to be French. The decor said otherwise but hey, we were famished so no one complained. Croque Monsieurs were on the menu so we all ordered one. It was, for lack of a better term, heaven on Earth. Gooey cheese, salty ham, buttery and crispy bread toasted to perfection. Really, does it get any better?
So when April rolled around and Gallo Family Vineyards announced that they were looking for grilled cheese sandwiches, I jumped on it. I live for the chance to create new and interesting grilled cheese recipes. My mind immediately went to a recipe I’d made for Sunday Supper the previous summer: tomato bacon jam. That jam, it is addictive. I cannot. stop. eating. it. I slather it on toast, scoop it up with cheese crackers, toss it into pasta. I want to turn it into a person and run off to Vegas with it. Slopping it on to a grilled cheese sandwich seemed so natural. I kind of wonder why I didn’t do it sooner.
Now, the toppings may be amazing but having a great grilled cheese really comes down to two things: bread and cheese, obvi. You could use regular slices of white bread here, if you want to ruin your sandwich. What you really need is a good, crusty bread. Something hearty that will hold up to the cheese, butter and fillings. Standard white bread can hold cheese but you add anything else on there and your sandwich will be kaput before you can even take your first bite. I almost always use a nice, thick sourdough but feel free to play around with bread styles.
I always have this big mental debate with myself when it comes to cheese. A classic grilled cheese sandwich uses American, hands down. And when I make grilled cheese, American is where I almost always land. But there are so many types of cheese out there, it’s almost unfair to count out the other varieties. Here, I went with white cheddar for a few reasons. First, I adore white cheddar. I’ll cut off a hunk and eat it in front of the TV. Second, I think it holds up against the smoky flavor of the bacon.
Pair this grilled cheese with Gallo Family Vineyards’ wines. I personally love it with the White Merlot or the Pinot Noir. But there is no real science when it comes to pairing, so try it with your favorite Gallo sip.
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Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.
Tomato Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese for #SundaySupper
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 2 slices thick, sourdough bread
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup tomato bacon jam (recipe provided in post)
- 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, grated
- Heat a large griddle or pan over medium heat. Add half the butter and allow it to melt.
- While the butter melts, place the jam on one side of your sandwich bread. Add the cheese to the other, then place the two halves together.
- Place the sandwich in the pan and cook until the cheese begins to melt and the sandwich turns golden on one side. Remove from pan briefly and add remaining butter.
- Once melted, add the sandwich, uncooked side down, and cook until golden and the cheese is fully melted.
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