I’m patenting a new line of therapy guaranteed to relive stress and promote mental well-being. It’s called The Raspberry Chipotle Bacon Grilled Cheese Diet. You heard it here first. Next stop: Oprah.
Since starting a food blog, I’ve learned that every ingredient, recipe category, and Little Debbie snack cake has its own “holiday,” at least according to this list. Honestly, unless it’s a day when I’m a) freakishly organized, b) feeling kitschy, and c) totally obsessed with whatever food is “on holiday,” I tend to miss most of these events. I’m just not enough of a planner.
Lima Bean Respect Day? Sorry, no. Chocolate-Covered Cashew Truffle Day? Too specific. National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day? See you there.
Grilled cheese is an exception. For one, we eat it all the time, holiday or no. For two. grilled cheese has been deemed worthy of its own month. For three, I’m in need of some serious grilled cheese therapy right now, so the timing is perfect.
As I mentioned on Friday, Ben and I have started the hunt for our first home, and I am so grateful for all of your encouragement and advice. After 48 hours spent looking at houses and condos, an entire month’s worth of cell phone minutes burned talking with different lenders, and a tear-filled breakdown in a Panera parking lot over the fact that we are “getting old,” I can officially say I’m overwhelmed.
To be honest, “overwhelmed” is a pretty accurate way to describe my general mood as of late. Like many of you, the to-do list I write is too long and the hours I sleep are too short. I have 15 tabs open on my computer at once, because I am trying to do all of them well and simultaneously. When this happens, I tend to do them all poorly and halfway.
Raspberry Chipotle Bacon Grilled Cheese is my way of slowing down, of taking a breather, and of reminding myself that—even if I can’t multitask, define escrow (despite having six different lenders explain it to me), and have mental breakdowns outside of Panera—I can make one killer grilled cheese sandwich. A few weeks ago, I was smitten by Marnely’s blackberry balsamic grilled cheese, and I knew I had to try my own twist.
Raspberry Chipotle Bacon Grilled Cheese is a fruity-gooey-smoky-bacony creation that begins and ends with excellent bread. One of my favorite splurges is an early morning trip to Madison Sourdough for an almond croissant and a loaf of their incredible whole wheat sourdough bread. No matter how stressed out I am, taking 10 minutes to stop in makes me feel better about my day and reminds me that there are things in life worth pausing to respect.
The bread is the first and last thing you taste when biting into a grilled cheese sandwich. Choose something that’s thick, hearty, and full of flavor. You deserve it. Also, we are going to stuff that bread with a serious amount of gooey goodness, and we need a bread that’s built for the task.
Next, the grilled sandwich’s namesake: cheese. I love sharp white cheddar. It has stellar flavor, melts beautifully, and pairs well with the bacon and berries.
Now, the raspberry chipotle filling. We lightly mash tart raspberries with a bit of jam and smoky chipotle powder. It’s sweet, spicy, and sultry. Bring in the salty, crunchy bacon, and we have everything a grilled cheese sandwich could and should aspire to be in life.
Finally, grill low and slow. The cheddar will bubble out the sides and become brown and crispy on the skillet. Pick that toasty bit off and pop into your mouth when no one’s looking. Cook’s privilege!
Though life right now is moving a bit too quickly for my liking, the word escrow eludes me, and ¾ of my to-do list is unchecked, I can cope, thanks to Raspberry Chipotle Bacon Grilled Cheese. It’s sweet, smoky flavor, ooey-gooey cheese, and thick, toasty bread demand that I pause to appreciate their perfection.
Also, I am weirdly and thoroughly comforted by the idea that, no matter how old I feel, I’ll never grow out of grilled cheese. Raspberry Chipotle Bacon Grilled Cheese therapy is a success. Oprah, feel free to call any time.
Raspberry Chipotle Bacon Grilled Cheese
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon cooked
- 6 ounces fresh raspberries
- 2 tablespoons raspberry jam or strawberry jam
- 1/4 teaspoon dried chipotle pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 4 slices hearty bread thickly cut (I used a multigrain sourdough)
- 6 ounces white cheddar cheese sliced
- If necessary, cook the bacon according to these easy steps. Once cool, cut each slice in half and set aside.
- Preheat a cast-iron skillet to medium low. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet. In a small bowl, gently smash and stir the raspberries, jam, and chipotle together with the back of a spoon. The mixture should remain fairly chunky.
- Assemble the sandwiches: For each sandwich, layer one slice of bread with a quarter of the cheddar, a quarter of the berries, four half-slices of bacon (2 full slices), an additional quarter of the berries, then one additional quarter of the cheese. Carefully set the loaded bread slice down in the buttered skillet. Place the remaining bread slice on top of the stack, then with remaining butter. Cook slowly until the bread is golden and the cheese hot and melted, flipping once, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. (I find it helps to place a lid or another heavy skillet directly over the pan.) Repeat with second sandwich. Slice and serve immediately.
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Happy National Grilled Cheese Month! Party with:
- Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese
- Apple Butter, Turkey, and Cheddar Grilled Cheese
- Corned Beef and Cabbage Grilled Cheese
You can also watch me make this gooey grilled cheese on live TV here. No judgement please. It was early.