The Baconing: Grilled smoked mozzarella with maple-caramelized bacon

Special Agent Dale Cooper said it best: Nothing beats the taste of maple syrup when it collides with ham. I don’t understand the alchemy of it, but when these two extreme flavors smash together, the result is nothing short of mindblowing. And no, I did NOT bring my hyperbole to the table with that description. Though I did bring a nearly obscene love of bacon.

Grilled smoked mozzarella with maple-glazed bacon

Backing up a bit: I’ve mentioned this before, but I was a vegetarian for a long time; I was even vegan for a while (a misguided lark that ended rather spectacularly one night with a bottle of rum and a block of cheese), to the eternal confusion and chagrin of my whole family. Particularly confused at the time was my father, who could not fathom how I could willingly deprive myself of bacon–he is English, and therefore He Knows From Bacon. Dad is a big believer in pork.

So, when we met up for the holidays during The Year Of Veganism, he made a point of filling our tiny tudor cottage with the irresistible aroma of proper, locally-produced, organic, this-is-the-good-stuff bacon–every morning. Without fail. Now, the house is the living embodiment of wee, which meant I could not run, nor could I hide. As such, by the time I returned to school (reasonably impressionable creature that I was), I had accepted bacon as a vegetable. Yes, I succumbed to my father’s de-programming, and have shared an intense and devoted relationship with bacon ever since.

in the pan

Okay, fine. Bacon and I have had our ups and downs; we even split up for a little while after an epic breakup with a man who cooked everything with bacon (seriously, everything). We always found our way back together, though, and it was with this profound love in my heart that I set about concocting this grilled cheese sandwich.

It wasn’t easy, coming up with the perfect showcase: though the maple syrup was a bit of a no-brainer, it took some serious soul-searching to come up with the appropriate cheese. In the end, it was Biscuit who showed me the way, suggesting a heady smoked mozzarella to accent the smoky flavor in the bacon. The result? The kind of sandwich that makes your heart skip a beat, that fills your home with an irresistible aroma, that makes all other bacon sandwiches seem weak and pale by comparison.

It’s the kind of sandwich that would make my father (and Agent Cooper) proud. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…

Grilled smoked mozzarella with maple-caramelized bacon
Call your cardiologist.

6 slices bacon, sliced into pieces approx 1/2″ wide (get the best bacon you can–organic and thick cut will always be a winner)
1/3c maple syrup
6oz smoked mozzarella, grated and divided
4 slices bread

  1. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-low to medium heat. Cook the bacon until it is at your desired level of crispiness. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel; drain out and dispose of the excess fat in the pan.
  2. Return the bacon to the pan and reduce heat to low; add maple syrup and cook, stirring frequently, until the whole concoction is thick and caramelized. Remove from heat, set aside.
  3. Turn the heat back up to medium.
  4. Butter all four slices of bread on one side. Place two of these slices butter-side down in the skillet. Working fast, take half of the cheese and divide it evenly between the two slices.
  5. Take the bacon concoction and divide it evenly between the slices; finish with the remaining cheese.
  6. Top with the remaining slices of bread, butter side out. Press down with a spatula and then cover loosely with foil. Cook for 4-5 minutes then remove foil; flip carefully and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until all sides are golden and gorgeous.

Yield: 2 sandwiches.

In cheese, sandwich

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