Monday, May 9, 2011

What's Shakin', Beef 'n Bacon?

Hamburger Bubble Clip Art
Hethyr:  The other morning, I got an intense craving for a burger, which is a bit odd for me.  Not to say that I don't love them - they just aren't something I eat very often and especially at 9:00 am.  Usually Jon and I grab a burger after a good hike, but this was not the case on this particular day.  This craving came from some unknown place deep in my psyche and would not subside - I thought about it all day long. Even while I was doing yoga (about the only time my brain gives me a break), all I could think about while I wasn't supposed to be thinking at all was a big, juicy burger with bacon and cheese.  *DROOL*

Jon's beautiful burgers,
grilled on a perfect day
When Jon got home from school that day, I asked him to grill some burgers.  Since we didn't have any buns on hand, we decided to use slices of homemade bread and make our version of a patty melt.

For the last week, we've been eating this incredible bacon jam that I received at a local swap.  People hand-make goods (food or otherwise) or come with eggs, produce, milk, herbs, etc. to swap with other folks. No money is allowed so you trade your items for others'.  It's a cool way to meet people in your community and end up with a rockin' stash of goodies.  

The bounty I received from the swap
I took dark chocolate-cherry-almond granola bars, dark chocolate "beetniks" (mini-muffins), artisan bread, organic unsweetened applesauce that I canned from Colorado apples and my Asian sesame vinaigrette.  I came home with balsamic-marinated dried tomatoes, peppermint lotion, Gorgonzola shortbread bites with fig compote, bacon jam (times two!), raw goat milk, vegetable seeds, mayonnaise and Japanese-style mayonnaise, sandalwood and patchouli soaps, piñon nuts, farm-fresh eggs, white whole wheat flour, honey caramels, banana pudding with salted caramel sauce, lemon pudding with raspberry sauce, dog treats, pot de crème (sort of like crème brûlée) and laundry soap.  It was awesome!  

We’ve tried several of the items from the swap so far – all incredible – and the bacon jam has made a few appearances on this week’s menu.  First, Jon made us grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon jam, then we had the patty melts and just this morning I made breakfast burritos with eggs, potatoes, black beans, cheese and… you guessed it – bacon jam.  Freakin’ amazing.  I plan on making it myself someday, but first I guess we’ll polish off the two jars I got at the swap.  Yep, that’s right – I shamelessly took a second jar when it was up for grabs.

Our patty melts thoroughly satisfied my mega-burger craving, but I’ll probably never be quite content with a regular patty melt again.  I’ll always feel like it’s missing that sweet, tangy, smoky something.  Maybe I’ll have to start carrying a jar of it around with me in my purse...

Bacon Jam Patty Melts
Serves 4
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 bread slices
  • 4 tablespoons bacon jam or 8 cooked bacon slices
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (we used some from the swap)
  • 4 slices of white cheese (mozzarella, muenster, pepperjack, etc.)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 5 tablespoons butter
1.  Form the ground beef into 4 patties, coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill, broil or pan-fry the patties until cooked to your liking (keep in mind that they'll cook a little more when the sandwich is made).  Cover with foil to keep warm and set aside.
2.  Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion slices.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned.  Remove from skillet and set aside.
3.  Spread 4 slices of bread with mayonnaise and 4 with bacon jam (or bacon).  Top 4 of the slices with hamburger patties, cheese and cooked onions.  Top with the remaining bread slices.
4.  Melt half of the remaining butter in the skillet and add sandwiches.  Cook until golden brown, then carefully flip.  Cook second side until golden brown and cheese is melted.  Cut in half, bite in and experience bacon-y bliss!
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Jon:  Some of my best memories from college are from the days when Hethyr and I would sleep until mid-afternoon then head to Steak 'n Shake for a very late breakfast.  Those of you who live out west with us might not know about Steak 'n Shake because they haven't yet migrated into the mountain time zone. Basically it's a 24-hour diner where you can shorten your life significantly by consuming a greasy burger, cheese-soaked fries and a cherry coke for minimal cash.  It's the kind of place that we no longer frequent due to the fact that we want to live to see 40, but it was great college food nonetheless.

Frisco Melt
Steak 'n Shake's Frisco Melt
Our favorite Steak 'n Shake meal was definitely the "Frisco Melt."  It was a couple of burger patties with two kinds of cheese and "Frisco sauce" (which tasted suspiciously like Thousand Island dressing), all loaded up on some grilled sourdough bread.  It was truly a miracle meal, sufficing as a late-afternoon breakfast or an early morning beer-sponge.  What more could a couple of starving college kids want?

When Hethyr came to me the other day with her burger craving and we didn't have any hamburger buns, the Frisco Melt discussion started immediately.  We knew we wanted the same satisfaction, only this was our chance to make it healthier (kind of) and even tastier.  With a little creativity and some help from the bacon jam, our new best friend, I can proudly proclaim mission accomplished.

By the way, Mom and Dad, in case you're reading this, you can be sure that we only did this on weekends and never would have done such a thing on a school day.  I always tried to get up by noon when I actually had class.


  1. I just died.... this all sounds so incredibly delicious! Your posts make me so happy... is that wrong? Additionally, I think your blog is much better than FPD ( because the story really makes the food seem to be even better than it already must be. I love it!

    P.S. I also love that you stuck w/ the "beetnicks" name... so great!

  2. I rarely get a true craving for a burger, but you definitely know how to get my taste buds going! Seriously . . . bacon jam!?!? Oh my!

  3. Jodie - it makes me happy that our posts make you happy! I must admit that FPD has some damn fine looking food, but I like the story behind it, too. Just wish we had their photography skills (or maybe just a better camera!). =)

    Mom - I take after you with burger cravings (few & far between) but, Bacon Jam... seriously!!! True love! ;)

  4. Staci ChristensenMay 11, 2011 at 7:08 PM

    I don't really ever crave burgers, though I chuckle every time I read your posts! I can hear Jon's voice and imagine the humor around the stories. :)