Sunday, June 1, 2014

52WoC Week 19: Caramelization - French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

French onion soup is definitely one of my favorite soups but it has nothing to do with the actual soup. There is nothing better than that beautiful piece of toasted crusty bread on the top of the bowl. One side is covered with rich bubbly melted gruyere and the other side is soft carrying that pure onion essence of the soup. So let's skip all of the work of soup and go directly to the good shit and make it into a sandwich. This grilled cheese carries the character and taste of French onion soup but has all of the advantages of a sandwich. You still get that richness of the soup and the cheese while getting that sweetness of the caramelized onions inside all sandwiched between two pieces of rustic French bread.

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

Qty Ingredient Procedure
2 medium onions
  1. Slice your onions thin into semicircles.
  2. Over low heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions in the pan. The melted butter and olive oil should coat the onions. Add more oil if it doesn't.
  3. Continue to cook the onions on low heat stirring every ten minutes or so. They will start to wilt after 10-20 then start to brown after that. It will take about 45-60 minutes to finish the onions.
1 tbps butter
1 tbps olive oil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
  1. During the last few minutes of finishing the onions, add the thyme and chopped garlic.
1 clove garlic
4 pieces crusty bread1
  1. Put your broiler on high. Place the cheese on the bread and broil until bubbly.
1 tbps butter
4 oz grated gruyere
1 tbps butter
  1. Put caramelized onions on one half of the pieces of bread and make sandwiches.
  2. Butter both sides of the sandwiches and put on medium high heat until golden brown on both sides.

There are dozens of shortcuts to making to caramelized onions all over the web and you are welcome to try them but I stick to the true and tried slow and low method. It takes a long time to make good caramelized onions but it's worth every second. In a pan, melt the butter in the olive oil. Cut your onions into thin semicircles. Add the onions and toss in the oil. If there isn't enough oil to coat all of the onions, add a touch more olive oil. Continuing to cook on low, stir every 5-10 minutes. They should start to wilt within 10 minutes and after another 20 minutes they should start to brown. From start to finish, count on at least 40 minutes to get nice dark caramelized onions. During the last few minutes, add the thyme and garlic and let that cook down in the onions. This gives the onions that true French onion soup flavor. Take off the heat and set aside.

So my process of grilled cheese is not completely necessary but I think it yields the best results. By melting the cheese before the grilling you don't have to worry about your cheese not being perfectly melted. Set your broiler up on high. Put the cheese on the bread and broil until it is melted and bubbly. Top half of the bread with the onion mixture and place the other bread to create the sandwiches. Spread butter on both sides and fry up over medium high heat until golden brown. If done properly, it will taste just like you're eating French onion soup.

  1. For all the photos I used white bread I had laying around - this would have been at least 10 times better with a nice crusty loaf.  

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