The Ultimate Southern Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The third-place winner, Susan R. of Round Rock, Texas, took home $1,000 for her Ultimate Southern Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the 2014 Martha White®/Lodge® Cast Iron National Cornbread Cook-Off. Cornbread wedges made from Martha White Sweet Yellow Cornbread Mix sandwich slices of creamy cheese, crispy bacon, caramelized onions, and ripe tomato. The exterior of each wedge is brushed with butter and grilled until golden brown, making this sandwich the ultimate warm, crispy, gooey treat.

The Ultimate Southern Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Ingredients
8 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and drippings reserved
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 medium red onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (7 oz.) package Martha White® Sweet Yellow Cornbread & Muffin Mix
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup ranch dressing
8 slices American cheese
4 large tomato slices, 1/4-inch thick (preferably heirloom tomatoes)
Salt and pepper
Directions:
HEAT oven to 400°F. Heat 2 tablespoons bacon drippings and 1 tablespoon butter in 9-inch Lodge® cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and sugar to skillet. Cook until onions are translucent. Transfer to bowl and set aside.
PLACE 2 tablespoons bacon drippings in skillet. Place in oven 7 to 8 minutes or until hot. Stir together cornbread mix, milk, and egg in small bowl until smooth. Pour batter into hot skillet. Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool cornbread in skillet 5 minutes. Turn out onto wire rack to cool.
CUT cornbread into four wedges. Slice each wedge open. Spread cut sides with 1 tablespoon ranch dressing. On bottom wedges, place 1 slice cheese. Break bacon slices in half. Place four halves on cheese slices. Spoon equal amounts of onion over bacon. Top with tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add remaining cheese slices. Cover with top cornbread wedges.
HEAT skillet over medium heat. Spread one side of sandwiches generously with butter. Place 2 wedges in skillet, buttered side down. Grill until golden brown and crunchy. Spread top with butter. Turn and grill other side. Repeat with remaining wedges. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings

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