With today’s sandwich, I wanted to recreate the flavors of a jalapeno popper, that bar-food staple appetizer. In the restaurant version, jalapeno peppers are stuffed with cream cheese, battered, and deep fried. It’s a perfectly spicy, creamy accompaniment to, say, a dozen pints of beer. I felt like a direct translation of jalapeno poppers into grilled cheese form would be a little too mild, though, so I made some substitutions. The crunch of the bread, the creamy, lightly tart chevre, the salty bacon, the spicy jalapeno, and the sweet tang of the apricot jam all balance each other perfectly, into a sandwich that has almost every type of flavor happening all at once, confusing your mouth and warming your belly. It’s intensely rich and satisfying, and I want you to make one. Here’s how it goes:
“Jalapeno Popper” Grilled Cheese
Makes one giant sandwich, serves two
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- 2 ounces chevre
- 4 slices crisp-fried bacon
- 3 whole fresh jalapeno peppers
- 1 tablespoon apricot preserves
- 2 tablespoons butter
Slice each jalapeno in half lengthwise, and remove stem, ribs and seeds. Place cut-side-down on a baking sheet, and broil until skins blacken and blister, about five minutes. Remove jalapenos from broiler, and transfer immediately into a plastic bag or other sealed container. Seal and let steam until cool enough to handle, about 10-20 minutes. Remove blackened skins by pinching them between your thumb and forefinger, and discard.
Spread one of the slices of bread with the chevre. Top with roasted jalapeno peppers, then bacon. Spread the other piece of bread with the apricot preserves, and add to sandwich. Butter each side of the sandwich, and toast in saucepan over medium heat until bread is toasted, about 2-3 minutes a side.