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  • Mary Kay

Grilled Cheese BLT with Jalapeno

Put some heat into your BLT…and grill it!

Everyone knows what a BLT is…a Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato on toast sandwich. It seems our family has loved them since the beginning of time. And the recipe has never changed. But, now it has.

Mom would have a conniption fit if she knew I was doing this to our beloved BLT. Even though she grew up on a Wisconsin farm she abhorred cheese, so she would not appreciate adding any type of cheese to her BLT. And, she was not a fan of spicy heat in anything and would definitely not appreciate the jalapeno and mustards I added to bring a little heat to this age-old standby. When I was a kid there was only on person in my family that loved cheese in combo with hot peppers, and that was Dad. It was not until I was married and got away from the old farm house standby meals and recipes, that I learned to love cheeses and to try some of the hotter foods. And, that’s how I came to add both cheese and heat to the loveable BLTs we ate as a staple when I was much younger.

BLTs were prevalent on our lunch or dinner table later in the summer when our huge heirloom tomatoes were in season. (Today they are considered heirloom. Back then they were the commonplace, naturally juicy meaty tomatoes we all enjoyed before all the hybridization took place to produce perfectly round, hard as a rock, tasteless fruit they still refer to as tomatoes.) Those huge succulent red ripe tomatoes would be picked and carefully set in rows on the picnic table to completely ripen in the afternoon sun. As a kid, it was difficult for me to carry more than one in each hand, they were so large. And they were so delicious - it was commonplace to chomp on their sweet juiciness like an apple, the tomato in one hand, a salt shaker in the other.

Mom made lots of BLTs for our family

Mom had her own routine when making BLTs for the family, as did us kids. Each of us would have a job assigned, assisting her in some way. Setting the table, separating lettuce leaves, picking out about five or six of the biggest tomatoes and slicing them onto a board, pouring the milk fresh from the neighboring farm, etc. She would fry up a couple big pans of bacon (when she could find bacon on sale). Maybe 20 or so slices for our 7-person family. We would brown the toast under the broiler in the oven with about 16 slices on the rack at a time. Broil, flip, broil the other side of the toast, pile them on the platter and add another layer of bread under the broiler. Our 2-slice toaster could not keep up with our need for toast during a meal such as this, so utilizing the oven was the more efficient way to feed the family.

Once the bacon and toast were ready, we’d descend on the table. Everyone would pass around the jar of Miracle Whip dressing (yucky Mayonnaise could not be found in our household), slather on their own and assemble their BLTs with toast, bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. A plate of iceberg lettuce leaves sat in the middle of the table along with a couple of salt shakers, and the overflowing bowl of bacon. Mom would always tell us how many of slices of bacon we could have. If she didn’t, it would have been easy to overdose on those salty slices of delicious pig meat.

Years later, with just two of us in our household, it’s easy to make a couple of BLTs. It’s the same routine, but in a much smaller, quieter laid back version. Fry 2-3 slices of bacon, make the toast in the toaster, slice one small tomato, break the Romaine lettuce leaves apart and yes, we still use Miracle Whip. No mayonnaise for our BLTs.

My Grilled Cheese BLT (GC BLT) sandwich has a strong punch of flavor

For much more flavor, I like to grill my BLT with flavored cheeses inside. I layer in Marieke’s Gouda locally made flavored cheeses. With numerous national and international awards to back her up, she offers a wide variety of deliciously flavored Goudas from nettles to jalapeno to wine, to forever aged, to florals. I try different cheeses each time I make a GC BLT.

I also add locally made, internationally known Silver Springs Mustards from Huntsinger Farms to my sandwich when I spread on the Miracle Whip. They offer a variety of flavors, including brown, yellow and dark mustards, hot and not so hot. Add the fried bacon, tomato slices, lettuce and jalapenos.

Then I fry the toasted sandwich in the same pan as the bacon was fried in to make it more like a grilled cheese. No butter needed since it's being grilled in the bacon fat. Everything in the sandwich gets warmed up, making all the flavors even more aromatic, especially the jalapenos. Flip the sandwich. The warmed mustards release a special tang when warmed up on the grill. It is a special meeting of salty bacon, tomato, MW, cozy mustards and flavorful cheeses.

Other flavors and attractions I’ll be trying with future Grilled Cheese BLTs:

*Caramelized onions

*Mushrooms sliced and caramelized with Sweet Vermouth

*Sliced and fried Jalapeno peppers

*Fresh ground flavored coffee beans sprinkled on the cheese

*Dilled asparagus

*Chopped Olive and Jalapeno salad

Let me know if you try something different and share the ingredients, and how you made it, with all of us.

Try something new the next time you’re hungry for a BLT. Check your fridge for different flavors to add to a plain but tasty sandwich. A BLT is a great base for an adventurous sandwich. It’s amazing what you can create and enjoy while “Baking your own Memories!”

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