Treat Yourself: French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

30 Jun

Surprisingly, the air conditioning in my turn-of-the-century home has been functioning so efficiently that I forget it’s probably over 90 degrees outside.  Both soup and a molten grilled cheese are normally associated with a brisk fall evening or a snowpocalypse, but I say NAY to stereotypical seasonal restrictions! Wrapped in a cozy blanket basking in the AC, I recently dined on the most indulgent and delicious grilled cheese I’ve ever had.  I’m a huge fan of French Onion soup in general, so when I found a recipe for incorporating the same concept into a SANDWICH, I knew it had to become a reality ASAP. Pro tip: make sure you’re starving.

Grilled cheeses are pretty straight forward and cheap, but this recipe calls for an additional preliminary step of braising a bunch of delicious onions.  Your grocery list should still be very reasonable.  Assuming you have olive oil, butter, and some wine, your list is basically garlic cloves, onions, bread, cheese, and thyme.

To make the wine-braised onions, you’ll need:

  • about 1 small clove garlic per 2 onions
  • onions (cook about 3-5 at a time, as you will find many uses for leftover caramelized onions)
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • bay leaf (which I didn’t use)
  • fresh thyme
  • red or white wine (I suggest red, you only need a 1/4 cup worth, so just finish off that random bottle in your house)

Directions:

Cut the onions in half lengthwise, then slice thinly again lengthwise.

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For every 1 large onion, heat about 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large, heavy-bottom pan over medium heat. Add the same amount of butter, allow to melt, then add minced garlic. Allow the garlic to soften (but not color), then add the onions. Stir to coat the garlic and onions in oil+butter, add a bay leaf and a small sprig of thyme, then turn down the heat to medium low (so onions don’t burn).

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Continue to cook the onions until they are soft and deep golden brown, 30-40 minutes (depending on how many onions you cook).  After this point, add about ¼ cup red or white wine (again I suggest red for some pretty coloring), and allow to cook down with the onions, another 5-7 minutes.

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The intoxicatingly rich smell of these bad boys is enough to get your mouth watering.  Once finished, set aside for grilled cheese assembly.

For the sandwich (makes one, I doubled the recipe for a hungry roommate), you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon each grapeseed (or olive) oil and butter, for frying
  • 2 slices of french baguette or french bread (I used wheat sourdough)
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter (I used way more than this.  I eyed the amount to my heart’s content)
  • enough shredded gruyere cheese to generously cover both slices of bread (the grocery store just had a block of gruyere, but I definitely recommend using the shredded if you can find it)
  • about ½ cup wine-braised onions, or basically as many as you can fit on the ‘wich
  • your extra thyme leaves

Spread each slice of French bread with softened butter, both sides. Add half the shredded cheese to one, pile braised onions on top, sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper, then add the rest of the cheese. Close the sandwich with the other slice of bread, and gently press together. Pictured is the sliced gruyere cheese and some fresh parmesan, because why not.

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Add grapeseed/olive oil into a pan, then add butter and turn on high heat.  Place sandwiches in the hot pan and cook until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown on both sides.  WARNING: flipping these things is a feat.  I ended up needing a spatula, tongs, and another set of hands.  Good luck…. KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE!

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Put on some stretchy pants and enjoy this summer indulgence because frankly, life’s way too short not to.

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thewinelifestyle

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VINTAGE REFLECTION

By Amy Purfield-Clark

culinarychronicles.wordpress.com/

Discovering new Foodventures with each bite

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a creative communicator

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