Bacon, Egg & Hash Brown Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Grilled cheese sandwiches have to be in the top five list of best comfort foods in the entire world. Just one bite and I feel like a kid again! Whether it was dipping a grilled cheese into a bowl of tomato soup or nibbling on one while laying on the couch suffering through a cold, there’s not much that could make you feel better than a hot grilled cheese sandwich. Back in the glory days of Nintendo, grilled cheese sandwiches were quite simply two pieces of white bread with a piece of American cheese slapped in the middle. Sometimes I would get crazy and add pepperoni, but otherwise, that was your basic grilled cheese. Today’s grilled cheese sandwiches most definitely take things a step or two farther. We are living in the age of the gourmet grilled cheese, folks. They’re the next macaron. From guacamole to pesto and French onion soup, the limit is truly your own imagination. Well, I imaged a big plate of my favorite breakfast foods, and then piled it high on a grilled cheese sandwich. Fried eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast are pretty much breakfast nirvana for me; throw in some sharp cheddar cheese and you have one heck of an epic sandwich.
A couple of quick tips for making the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches which I’ve picked up through trial and error, as well as from Closet Cooking:
- Make sure your butter is really, really soft. If it’s not, it won’t spread easily and might tear your bread. I’ve found that giving the bread a healthy slather of butter all over gets you a wonderful golden brown all over the bread instead of melting the butter in the skillet, which tends to create overdone and underdone spots.
- The shredded cheese may sound a little odd, but doing so helps it to melt evenly and quickly. I’m probably not the only one who has bitten into a grilled cheese sandwich only to have gooey, melty cheese around the edges but some still-firm cheese in the middle. We want ooey, gooey the whole way through!
- Keep the heat on medium-low until the cheese has melted, and then if you need to brown the bread a little more, kick up the heat a notch or two.
What would your ultimate grilled cheese sandwich include??
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Place peeled potato in a small saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a large (12-inch) cast iron skillet (use stainless steel if you don't have cast iron) until crisp. Remove from the skillet to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Pour the bacon drippings from the pan into a small bowl and set aside.
Return the pan to the burner (do not wipe out the pan) over medium heat and fry the eggs to your desired degree of doneness (you can cook them the whole way through, leave the yolk runny, whatever your preference). Remove the eggs to a small plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Once the potato is cool enough to handle, grate with the large holes of a box grater. Heat your skillet over high heat and then measure the reserved bacon drippings. Add 2 tablespoons to the hot skillet (if you don't have quite 2 tablespoons, use vegetable or canola oil to make up the difference). Spread the shredded potatoes in a thin, even layer over the bottom of the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Don't try to turn them or move them until the 5 minutes is up! Once brown, use a wide spatula to flip the potatoes over and cook on the other side for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown as well. Once finished, remove the hash browns to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Butter all of the slices of bread, making sure to spread the butter over the entire surface of the bread to the edges. Place two pieces butter-side down in the skillet, and then top each slice of bread with a quarter of the cheese, half of the potatoes, one egg, two slices of bacon and the remaining cheese. Top with another slice of bread, buttered side-up. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, then carefully flip the sandwich and continue to cook until golden brown on the other side, about 5 to 7 minutes total. Slice in half and serve!
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