Warning! This NOT Your Mama’s Grilled Cheese!
For some random reason the food gods have chosen April as “Grilled Cheese Month.” My love affair with the sandwich dates back to early childhood (translates to MANY years) when my beloved mom regularly whipped up a half-dozen orders of the ooey-gooey lunchtime favorite for her hungry and wildly impatient offspring. So, April seems to be as good a month as any for celebrating this most decadent of cheese sandwiches.
And judging from my recent visit to The Grilled Cheese Academy’s website, this tried-and-true classic has clearly evolved from two slices of American cheese wedged between a few slices of toasty Wonder Bread. Indeed, a culinary revolution has inspired countless wildly creative versions of the Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Check out “The Bardot” — brie and parmesan cheeses, brown sugar, roasted pork belly, candied walnuts, Arugula, and Bosc pears oozing from grilled sourdough bread that has been lathered with onion and fig spread — OH MAH GAWD!
So then, on a recent visit to Bottega Americano (which is absolutely my favorite San Diego locale for Italian fare), I dreamt up a savory Grilled Cheese inspired by the Mushroom Pizza that was listed on their drool-worthy dinner menu …
Fontina, Truffle & Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese
(Yields 2 Sandwiches)
- 4 slices of artisan bread (a roasted garlic version is righteously delicious)
- 8 ounces (1 cup) shredded Fontina cheese
- 3-4 ounces (1/2 cup) thinly sliced yellow onions
- 3-4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 Tablespoon Stonewall Kitchen’s Roasted Garlic Onion Jam (* See note below)
- Truffle Oil
- 4 Tablespoons butter
*Note: Preserves such as Apricot or Fig can be substituted for Roasted Garlic Onion Jam
Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they are brown and beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Remove from skillet and into a medium sized heat-tolerant bowl. Melt another tablespoon of butter in the same skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook until all the mushroom water has evaporated, and they are soft and beginning to brown. Time allowance for this varies depending on the type of mushroom you are using.(I prefer cremini mushrooms because they retain minimal water.) Remove mushrooms from the skillet and add to the onions. Add the jam/preserves and thyme to the onion-mushroom mixture, and stir to coat evenly.
Using the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter, lightly coat one side of each slice of bread. Heat the same skillet over medium flame, and place two slices of bread (buttered side down) in the pan. Cover each slice with about 1/4 cup of shredded Fontina cheese.
Divide the onion-mushroom mixture between the two sandwiches, topping each with half.
Divide the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese between the sandwiches, then top with the remaining two slices of bread, keeping the buttered side up. Cover the skillet for 2-3 minutes to expedite melting of the cheese.
Carefully flip the sandwiches over using a flat spatula. Cover the skillet and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
When cheese has completely melted into gooey deliciousness and the bread is toasted to a scrumptious golden brown, remove the sandwiches to a cutting board. Sprinkle the top of each with a few drops of truffle oil and enjoy.