Kick Up Your Childhood Favorite!

Your childhood PB&J was probably a fairly simple thing. Two slices of plain old sandwich bread, smeared with peanut butter and grape jelly, and lunch was taken care of for another day. As adults, it's fun to revisit those early favorites, whether to enjoy them in their original state or to transform them into something utterly different. If you fall into the latter camp, here's a way to turn that simple childhood favorite into a larger-than-life guilty pleasure — a PBBB&J (Peanut butter, bacon, banana and jam)!

Difficulty Level: Easy
Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 strips dry-cured artisanal bacon
  • 2 slices good quality bread
  • 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. jam or jelly
  • 1 small banana, cut into ¼-inch rounds
  • Butter, room temperature

Directions:

Bake or fry the bacon to your preferred doneness. Blot any excess fat with paper towels, and set the bacon aside to keep warm.

Place a heavy-bottomed skillet to heat over a medium burner, while you assemble the sandwich.

Set the two slices of bread on a clean work surface. Spread the peanut butter on one side, and the jam or jelly on the other.

Arrange the banana slices evenly on the peanut butter, so each bite of the sandwich will have its own morsel of banana.

Line up the bacon strips atop the banana rounds, covering the entire surface of the sandwich. Don't skimp on the bacon; moderation isn't what this sandwich is all about!

Top the sandwich with the second slice of bread. Spread the outside of the sandwich with butter and place it in the skillet, butter and jam side down.

Spread the other side of the sandwich with butter, as the first side begins to cook. Grill the first side at moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes until it's nicely golden, then flip the sandwich carefully and grill the second side for another 1½ to 2 minutes.

Slice the sandwich into halves or quarters with a serrated knife, holding it carefully so the fillings don't slide away. You might find it's helpful to hold the sandwich together with wooden sandwich picks — the kind you'd use for a club sandwich.

Serve – or devour – the sandwich while it's still warm.

Tips:

Soft-textured bread is best for this sandwich. If it's made from a crusty, artisan-style loaf the bananas and peanut butter have an unfortunate tendency to slide out when you bite into it. Thickly sliced French or Italian-style bread from the supermarket is a good choice, or brioche if you really want to make it an over-the-top experience.

For a sandwich large enough to serve two – or more! – use two large slices cut from a round "boule" of European-style bread. Trim off the crusts if they're not soft enough to easily bite through. Double the remaining ingredients, and use a skillet large enough to hold the whole sandwich. Cut it into wedges before serving.

Heat makes the peanut butter soft and drippy, so be sure to have plenty of napkins at hand when you eat the sandwich.

Feel free to "upscale" the sandwich with premium jams, jellies or preserves; or to substitute almond or other nut butters.

Add a little more guilt to your pleasure by caramelizing the bananas in a skillet with butter and brown sugar before assembling the sandwich.

Nutritional Data (Per Serving):
Calories 1330 (400 from fat), Fat 44g, Protein 50g, Carb 191g, Fiber 11g, Iron 70% DV, Sodium 2440mg, Calcium 15% DV

Nutritional values are based on data from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Actual nutritional values may vary due to preparation techniques, variations related to suppliers, regional and seasonal differences, or rounding.