Wednesday, December 5, 2012

French Onion Grilled Cheese

French onion soup has ruined more than one article of clothing since its invention. You can't wait to dig in, and as soon as you press the spoon into the gooey cheese, the hot broth jumps out. I specifically remember a white shirt from U.S. Male that I got for 8th grade graduation that got the french onion treatment at Harry T.'s in Destin, Florida. (Why was I eating French onion soup at the beach during the summer? I really don't know, to tell you the truth.)

Well, put your bibs away! We have invented a safer, cuter french onion grilled cheese. It's a mix of the soup you remember and the grilled cheese you always loved.

French Onion Grilled Cheese

4 large white or yellow onions (thinly sliced, about 7 cups)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)

1 cup red wine
1/4 teaspoon cracked black 

1 tablespoon vegetarian worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 quart vegetable broth (like Whole Foods 365 Brand)
8 ounces gruyere (shredded)
8 slices bread

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, layer in the onions and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Cover and set the heat to low for about 20 minutes. Remove the cover and raise the heat to medium. Continue to cook and occasionally stir until the onions are deeply browned, which will take another 20 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the red wine; make sure to scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom. Increase the heat and reduce the wine by half. Now add the pepper, worcestershire, vinegar, thyme, granulated garlic, bay leaves, soy sauce and vegetable broth to the pot. Stir to incorporate, bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce the heat. Allow mixture to cook for 20 to 30 minutes so the flavors can meld.

Strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve and fish out the bay leaves and thyme stems. Return the broth to the soup pot in order to keep it warm.

Assemble the grilled cheese sandwiches by adding 1/3 cup of grated gruyere and 1/3 cup of the onion mixture each to 4 slices of bread. Top with remaining bread slices. Add the remaining tablespoon on butter to a large frying pan and melt the butter over medium heat. Grill the sandwiches for about 3 minutes per side or until bread is golden brown and the cheese has meted. Serve grilled cheese with a cup of warm broth for dipping. (
Makes 4 servings.)