Slice the bread with criss-cross patterns, stuff grated cheese deep into the incisions, top the cheese with bacon, top the bacon with more cheese, put the bread into the oven and, some 30 minutes later, it has opened up, the cheese has melted and you have your pull-apart bread with cheese and bacon.
But the best part is eating the thing — the reason why it’s called pull-apart bread. You take a section, pull it out, the melted cheese gets stringy, you pop the piece into your mouth and you so many textures and flavors — toasted bread crust, moist inner bread portion, soft gooey cheese, crisp greasy bacon… It is so much fun especially when you have family (or friends) to share it with. It’s a group kind of food, really. It’s meant to be shared.
- 1 whole loaf of crusty bread (country-style bread is best)
- 250 g. of cheese (I used Monterey Jack but you can use any cheese that melts well)
- 150 g. of belly bacon
- chopped parsley (optional)
- Chop the bacon and fry until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
- Alternatively, fry the uncut rashers until crisp then crumble.
- Shred the cheese.
- Using a serrated knife, cut through the bread, not all the way through but about two-thirds of the way, making criss-cross patterns. The incisions should ideally be an inch apart.
- Stuff about three-quarters of the cheese into the incisions pushing deep into the bread carefully with your fingers.
- Push the bacon into the cheese distributing the bacon pieces as evenly as you can.
- Top the bacon with the remaining cheese, pushing down whatever falls off.
- Sprinkle the parsley over everything.
- Line a baking tray with a large piece of foil. Lay the bread on the foil. Using an even larger piece of foil (fold two pieces together, if necessary), create a tent over the bread. The foil should not touch the bread so that no cheese gets stuck on the foil. Bring the top and bottom pieces of foil together and fold all the edges to seal.
- Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.
- Take the tray out of the oven. Remove the top piece of foil.
- Return the tray to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes to lightly toast the outside of the bread.
- Transfer the bread to a plate and tear off as much of the foil as you can.
- Then, start pulling. It is, after all, pull-apart bread.