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The Jalapeno Popper Sandwich

As the countdown to the Grilled Cheese Invitational (GCI) continues, I bring you this week’s featured grilled cheese: The Jalapeno Popper Sandwich by Chef Heidi Gibson, owner of San Francisco’s The AMERICAN Grilled Cheese Kitchen and seven-time National Grilled Cheese Invitational award winner. Heidi hasn’t competed with this particular sandwich at the GCI, but it would be a tasty contender in the Kama Sutra category. Sandwiches that compete in this category must be “of the savory nature, with any type of bread, butter, and cheese PLUS additional ingredients.”

The Jalapeno Popper Sandwich is both spicy and sweet at the same time. Mild and creamy Tillamook Monterey Jack (recently voted “America’s Best“!) and chevre cheese are melted over crisp, smoky bacon and apricot-jalapeno relish. If you don’t live in San Francisco and can’t head to Heidi’s restaurant, then try making it at home:

The Jalapeno Popper Sandwich by Heidi Gibson of The AMERICAN Grilled Cheese Kitchen
For Each Sandwich
4 teaspoons (¾ oz) Tillamook® Salted Butter at room temperature
8 slices high-quality artisan bread, like a levain, sliced about ½ inch thick
¼ cup (2 oz) fresh chevre (goat cheese)
½ cup (4 oz) Apricot-Jalapeno Relish
8 pieces cooked bacon
8 slices Tillamook® Monterey Jack Cheese (also try Tillamook® Reduced Fat Monterey Jack)
For the Apricot-Jalapeno Relish (makes enough for about 8 sandwiches)
8 oz dried California apricots (or Blenheim), chopped
6 tablespoons (3 oz) white onions, diced
4 jalapeno peppers (stems and seeds removed), minced
2 serrano peppers, cleaned and minced
½ habanero pepper (optional – only if you really like spice!)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about ½ a lime’s worth)
½ tablespoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated (Chef tip: store fresh ginger in the freezer. You can also substitute with dried ground ginger)
1 ½  tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Make the Relish
Mix all ingredients for the Apricot-Jalapeno relish together thoroughly, then cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight.
Assemble the Sandwich
Spread butter on one side of 2 slices of bread. Lay bread buttered side down on a cutting board. Spread chevre (which can be softened by heating it briefly in the microwave) evenly over 1 slice. Spread Apricot-Jalapeno relish evenly on top of chevre.  Place bacon on relish, then top sandwich with cheese slices. Sandwiches can be cooked open face on a pre-heated cast iron pan in a 500°F oven, then closed and served. Or they can be closed, then cooked in a pan on a stovetop over medium-low heat until bread is toasted and cheese is melted.

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