When the weather starts to get chilly in southern California, I know that it must be getting truly cold in the rest of the country. And there’s nothing that takes the edge off of the cool, biting weather like a gooey, toasty, steaming hot grilled cheese, especially when that grilled cheese has sweet sticky jam inside. We all know that salty cheese goes great with sweet preserves, but there’s something very special about the flavor of tomato jam. It has an acidity and tang to it that you can’t find in other jellies, and a subtle warmth that comes from simmering away the tomatoes over low heat for an extended period of time.
I made it for the first time last summer, when my tomato harvest proved to be more than abundant and I needed to get creative with my tomato preservation options. I found the recipe over at Food in Jars, along with a bunch of tomato-preserving staples I use to this day, and was intrigued by the idea of a sweet tomato spread. So, I whipped up a small batch and gave it a taste. Cinnamon-y, sweet, and tangy, it immediately became my new jam (pun very much intended), perfect for sandwich toppings, delicious on burgers, and delightful with eggs in a basket.
The smoked gouda combination happened when me and Jeremy were laying around watching a movie one night and decided to have a cheese and cracker snack. We only had smoked gouda, and I decided to break out my little jar of jam to put on it too, just because I had started to put it on everything at that point. And low and behold, I discovered my favorite cheese and jelly combination. So I did what I do with all my beloved flavor combinations; I tried to make a sandwich out of it. I used sourdough bread because its mildly sour flavor works very well with the jam, but you could easily substitute your preferred bread of choice. The resulting sandwich was everything I’d ever wanted in a grilled cheese: gooey, salty, sweet, toasty, smoky, creamy…I ended up having two of them. But to be fair, the sandwich slices weren’t very big so it was completely warranted. And I’m sure that upon tasting this fine creation, you’ll feel the exact same way.
Smoked Gouda & Tomato Sage Jam Grilled Cheese
Heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat until the surface of the pan is coated. To assemble the sandwich, butter the bread with the remaining tablespoon of butter, then spread 1 tablespoon of the jam onto each piece. lay two slices of the gouda on top of one of the slices touching the jam, and then place the other piece of bread on top, with the jammy side facing the middle. Place the sandwich on the pan and grill, covered, until the bread turns brown and crispy and the cheese begins to melt. Use a spatula to flip the sandwich over and repeat on the other side until desired toastiness is reached. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Tomato Sage Jam
Mix together all of the ingredients in a large pot over medium high heat until the mixture begins to boil. Lower to medium-low heat and allow to simmer until the mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency, stirring every 10 minutes (take about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes depending on your heat level). Pour the jam into sterilized canning jars, seal tightly, and submerge in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove with canning tongs and allow to cool to room temperature.