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Bacon and Cheese Melts with Garlicky Watercress

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  1. 32 thin slices of lean bacon (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  2. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  3. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  4. 8 large garlic cloves, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  5. 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  6. 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  7. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  8. 8 slices pumpernickel bread (1/3 inch thick)
  9. 1/4 pound Comte or Gruyère cheese, thinly sliced
  10. 2 ounces watercress, large stems discarded (4 cups)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large skillet, cook half of the bacon over moderate heat, turning once, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining bacon.
  2. In a medium skillet, bring the water and olive oil to a simmer. Add the garlic in an even layer, cover and cook over moderate heat until the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook over moderate heat, undisturbed, until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes longer. As the garlic colors, transfer it to a plate. Pour 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil into a medium bowl. Whisk in the mustard and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and top each slice with 4 slices of bacon. Cover the bacon with the cheese. Bake for 4 minutes, until the bacon is sizzling and the cheese is melted.
  4. Add the watercress and the garlic slices to the dressing in the bowl and toss well. Mound the watercress on 4 of the cheese melts and close the sandwiches; cut in half and serve.
Notes Beer A lush, malty beer will match the earthiness of the bread and the creaminess of the cheese. Choose one with a slightly bitter edge, such as Paulaner Salvator Doppelbock from Germany or Fuller's India Pale Ale from England.


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