What is it about grilled cheese that brings back so many childhood memories?
The mere utterance of the word and I can see my mom liberally buttering two sides of white bread, adding a slice of American cheese and frying it up until it reached a flawless golden brown consistency. Grilled cheese was a staple in our house. We had it for weeknight dinners, on cold snowy days or even during a snack on summer vacation. As I got older, I remember going to a friend’s house for dinner and her mom made grilled cheese with muenster. My mind was blown. I thought they must be the fanciest people I had ever met.
Flash forward to present day and we’ve changed the game. American cheese is apparently dead and these nostalgic sandwiches are getting makeovers left and right. I’m sharing my version of a grown-up grilled cheese. What could be better than bacon, brie and fig jam to give our old favorite a new look? It’s the perfect balance between sweet and salty all in one bite. If you can’t find fig jam, then fresh fig slices, apple butter or blackberry preserves would work well, too.
The first step is to cook thick-cut bacon in a skillet until it’s crispy. We’re going all out here, and turkey bacon isn’t invited to the party. Don’t forget to save some of the bacon fat to caramelize thinly sliced onions. I add a splash of balsamic vinegar the the onions, helping to make them even sweeter while adding some acidity.
To assemble, I layer brie, bacon, fig jam and those beautiful brown onions in between two slices of buttered sourdough bread. There’s a big debate in the grilled cheese world if you should use butter or mayo to make those golden brown edges. I have found both methods work well and the success of your sandwich is more dependent on the temperature of your skillet. Low and slow is the way to go. If the pan is too hot, you’ll burn the butter before it gets a chance to toast the bread and melt the cheese.
Now go put on your grown-up pants and make this amazing rendition of grilled cheese.
Brie, Bacon and Fig Jam Grilled Cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 4 slices sourdough
- 6 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fig jam
- 4 ounces brie, sliced
1. Add bacon to large nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat until crispy, about 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness. Remove bacon from pan and set aside to paper-towel-lined plate.
2. Add onions to skillet (with remaining bacon fat) and turn down to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to turn brown, about 30-40 minutes. If they begin to stick to pan, add a tablespoon or two of water to release the browned bits. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 more minute.
3. Generously spread butter on the outside of each slice of bread. Spread fig jam over one of the unbuttered sides of bread, then top with caramelized onions, bacon and lastly brie slices. Top with another slice of bread, buttered side up.
4. Add assembled sandwich to hot nonstick skillet, buttered side down. Cook over medium low heat until golden brown and toasted, about 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook another 4-5 minutes on other side.