Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese

Makes 4 sandwiches

8 slices bacon

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

8 slices pain au levain, Italian or sourdough bread

2 to 3 ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup Jalapeño Relish (see recipe)

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated

1. Line a plate with paper towels. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp. Transfer to plate. Break each bacon piece in half. Drain fat from pan; wipe it with a paper towel, but do not wash it.

2. Spread butter on each bread slice. Place them buttered-side down on your work surface. Spread goat cheese on half the slices and relish on the other half. Sprinkle the Jack cheese over the relish, top with bacon. Place the remaining slices, goat cheese-side down, on top.

3. Heat the skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches in the pan; cover and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until the undersides are golden brown. Turn sandwiches, pressing each one firmly with a spatula to flatten it slightly. Cover and cook 3 to 4 minutes more, until undersides are well-browned. Turn sandwiches once more, press firmly with the spatula, and cook, uncovered, 1 minute or until the cheese has melted. Remove from pan; let cool 5 minutes. Cut each sandwich in half and serve.


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-- Heidi Gibson and Nate Pollak, American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

Jalapeño Relish

Note: "The cheese and bacon really knock the heat down," Nate Pollak says. "Make the relish hotter than you think you'd want it."

8 ounces dried California or Blenheim apricots, coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) finely chopped white onion

4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced

2 serrano peppers, seeded and minced

1/2 habanero pepper, minced (if you want incendiary relish)

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or minced

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly. Let sit for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight, refrigerated.