Dinner is still warm on the table and the dishes are piled up in the sink, but this recipe had to be shared ASAP. It's a variation on a recipe a friend shared with me almost two years ago. I saw this version on Pinterest and knew it needed to be tried. With a garlic boule just a day away from going stale beyond use, I had the perfect opportunity to use it up, try the recipe and let the bread crumbs fall how they may. Most of them fell straight to my belly (which eventually means my hips, but that's beside the point).
With cheese, bacon and butter in the recipe, I knew I couldn't go wrong. And boy, was I right. I expect this sinful recipe to make an appearance at a potluck very, very soon.
Bacon-Ranch Pull-Apart Bread
1 unsliced round loaf/boule sourdough bread (any Italian or French boule will work)
8-12 oz cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 jar Hormel Real Bacon bits
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp Ranch dressing mix
Using a sharp bread knife cut the bread going both directions to create a checkerboard. Do not cut through the bottom crust. Place slices of cheese in between cuts. Sprinkle bacon bits on bread, making sure to get in between cuts. Mix together butter and Ranch dressing mix. Pour over bread. Wrap the entire loaf in foil and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Substitution Suggestions: I didn't use cheddar; I used provolone and mozzarella. It's what I had on hand. And frankly, I like cheeses that don't have as much oil as cheddar, although a white or smoked cheddar would be really good. I like the way Muenster melts, so I may try that one in the future.
Any boule (except highly flavored varieties like rye or pumpernickel) will work here. And, if you can't get a boule (the round kind of bread), use a French loaf.
Lessons Learned: I think it needs longer than 15 minutes to melt the cheese. I also didn't unwrap it since my bread was starting to go stale and I wanted it to stay as moist as possible. I used a garlic-topped boule, which was fabulous.
Make sure that the butter and Ranch mix are well mixed before you pour the mixture over the sliced loaf. You don't want gobs of Ranch clumps in one place or else you'll get a salt overload.
I used low sodium bacon bits from a jar. I think they're better than the bacon bits that come in the yellow bag. There's absolutely no reason why you couldn't use real bacon that you've chopped up yourself, but the jar is so much easier.