Image Credit: James Ransom/Food52/Ten Speed Press
My mother, an excellent cook, likes to dispense her cooking wisdom in a slow, carefully timed trickle of detail. For years, I made her oven-fried chicken and wondered why mine was never as crisp. Because she hadn’t yet told me about the critical step of soaking the chicken in salted ice water for a few hours before cooking it.
With grilled cheese, I felt I’d learned a pretty good version on my own —buttering the outside of the bread and grating cheese for the inside, so the exterior gets supercrisp and toasty and the center is a glorious goo. Merrill and I even did a video on this grilled cheese. My mom watched the video and said, “Looked good, but you forgot the bacon.” She always laid a piece of bacon across the outside of the sandwich so it would be embedded in the grilled cheese like a fossil and the bacon fat would scent the bread. Mom, 1. Me, 0.
- Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread. Lay a half slice of bacon across the middle (lengthwise) of each buttered side.
- Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. (If you can squeeze all the sandwiches into one pan, bravo; otherwise cook them in batches or in two pans side by side.) Lay 2 slices of bread, butter-and- bacon side down, in the pan.
- Sprinkle one-half of each of the cheeses on top, then top with 2 slices of bread, butter-and-bacon side up. Press down on the sandwiches with a spatula. Cook until the bacon renders and the sandwich warms through, 5 minutes or so. When the bacon and bread are nicely browned, turn and toast the other side for about 5 minutes more. Transfer the sandwiches to plates (you can keep them warm in a 200°F/95°C oven as well) and cook the second batch