when they aren't drunk they're sober.
--William Butler Yeats
Well, St. Paddie's Day will soon be here, don't you know? I'm not one to celebrate, but for those that are, this breakfast grilled cheese might be a good way to start the day. Or end it, for that matter. I don't believe I've ever posted a recipe for a sandwich that many love, myself included. The weird thing is that I hated grilled cheese sandwiches when I was a kid. Perhaps it was because I only remember three cheeses ever in our house.
Mom always bought those American slices that I never liked, but I remember my brother peeling off the plastic and shoving them into his mouth, one slice at a time. I remember sliced Muenster that my Dad would melt on toast for breakfast. And I remember Colby-which is a cross between Colby and Monterey Jack. I never ate cheese on sandwiches. I never ate it on burgers. (Yes, I ate burgers back then.) I didn't eat Mac n' cheese. I didn't even sprinkle the cheese from THE can on my spaghetti.
Truly I do not remember when I discovered grilled cheese. Or when I discovered bacon. This however is a post on cheese. Grilled cheese, that is. I was so excited when I went to our newly reopened grocery store last week. They have entered the modern era with a real cheese shop! And then I discovered that Irish Soda Bread was back. You have no idea how delirious that made me. It was just last year that I bought my first loaf. I'd never eaten Irish Soda Bread before. I then went home and made some from a James Beard recipe and I couldn't believe it, but I loved the store version more.
I admit to not liking that I couldn't pronounce half the ingredients, but really people, this is good bread. Maybe it isn't really Irish soda bread, but it tastes as Irish as any soda bread I'll ever eat. Unfortunately even though I consider myself a Denverite, I really am a suburbanite. And in our tiny spot in the Mile High, we don't have a bakery. I've always wanted to open a bakery-any backers out there?
So the bread. Damn, the bread. The next time I go to the store I am going to buy like 5 loaves and freeze it, because they only make it this time of year. It is dense. It is slightly sweet, And it has raisins in it. Oh. I almost forgot. It has Demerara sugar sprinkled on the outside of the loaf. This is a very good thing and I'll tell you why. When you grill your grilled cheese, (Hence the name!) the sugar on the outside starts to melt a bit. It starts to even burn a little bit. And it gets all caramelly on the outside. Plus it smells really good! And well, I'll let you guess how good that tastes.
But I kind of veered off the track and forgot to tell you about the cheese. It is so easy to do when drinking Guinness in the middle of the day. I think one good reason to make this sandwich is because it lets you start your day off with beer. (Well, I didn't want to waste it!) And back to cheese...Being close to St. Patrick's Day, they were featuring Irish cheese. I love cheese and honestly, I've not eaten a lot of Irish cheese. Well, I came home with three kinds. An Irish whiskey cheese that was mellow and rich. Probably tastes a lot like you'd feel after tipping a few. I came home with a Dubliner stout, which was very fragrant with the aroma of stout. Probably like you'd smell after tipping a few; stouts, that is! And last but not least, I arrived home with a simple sweet Irish cheddar, which is probably what you'd be like after not tipping any! (But that's not fun!)
So no, this isn't a post about corned beef. This isn't a post about potatoes. Thought there's nothing wrong with serving some with this. This is a post about cheese. And good bread. And bacon. I did vaguely mention that, didn't I? Glazed baked bacon with Guinness and pepper that becomes spicy and sweet. Well, since my original thought was to make this an Irish breakfast sandwich, I thought some bacon would work. Now Irish bacon doesn't get good and crisp, which is the only way I like my bacon by the way, but I will let you decide; how you like your bacon, that is.. I then grilled a few leeks and tomatoes, for health reasons. If you do this just remember to deglaze your pan with Guinness. Skipped the beans. Whoever heard of beans for breakfast? Well Manservant has. He loves beans for breakfast. Damn, I'm wandering again. Just make this. It will start your day off right. It will end it even better. Cheese. Bread. Beer and Bacon. Four staple foods in my book.
Guinness Irish Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon
Makes 2: Serves 1 (just kidding!)
Time to Make: Depends on how many you've tipped or maybe 15 minutes active
6 slices thick bacon
1/2 T coarsely ground black pepper
2 T brown sugar
1 T Guinness
4 slices Irish Soda Bread (with raisins)
1/2 T brown mustard
1 T apricot jam
1 T Guinness
1 c shredded Irish cheese
2 T butter
Directions: (I used a convection oven to bake my bacon. It will take longer in a regular oven. But it may not. Because I like my bacon crisp and you may not. Got that?)
Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking pan with foil. Place rack on top of that. Place bacon slices on the rack.
Make a paste of the pepper, sugar and Guinness. Smear it on the bacon. Bake for about 30 minutes or until bacon is as crisp as you want it. It will crisp up a bit after removing it from oven. Now have a swig of Guinness while you grate your cheese.
In a small bowl mix the cheese with mustard, jam and Guinness.
Get out your favorite cast iron pan. Melt 1 T of butter in the pan over medium heat. Have another swig and remove pan from heat because your bacon probably isn't ready. Now take the 4 slices of bread and put 1/4 c of cheese mixture on each slice. When bacon is ready, put 2-3 slices on two slices of the bread. (If you are nice you gave one extra slice to the dog and you probably ate the other.) Now carefully place the cheese slice without the bacon, on top of the slice with the bacon and cheese.Got that?
Now get that pan hot again and place both sandwiches in skillet. Take a piece of foil and place it over the top of the bread and using your hands smush the bread towards the bottom of the pan. Not too hard, as you don't want the cheese all over the bottom. A little won't hurt though, because that part tastes so good! Cook about 2-3 minutes and then add 1T of butter to pan and flip your sandwiches. Replace your foil and smush again. I always keep my pan covered as the heat retained in the skillet helps the cheese melt. Now take another swig of that Guinness. Open another. And flip that grilled cheese onto a plate. This is the best way to start St. Paddie's Day!
More to Try:
|Old Photo but this is GREAT mustard!|