Sunday, October 08, 2006

This Ain't Johnny's Grilled Cheese

*Just Braise has moved. Please visit me at!*

Sweet, gooey, warm and crisp, there are few things that totally satisfy our child desires of yesteryear like a perfect butter-laced grilled cheese.

I think the French understand this desire best—the croque monsieur and croque madame are practically the national foodstuffs. [And believe you me, any time I find myself in this tasty country (which is definitely not enough) I am always sure to pick up this cafĂ© treat.] When I first came across the croque pair in my elementary French textbook I thought it was surely a mistake—that or the authors were pandering to the young masses that were learning the placement of all those accent egus. Why were we learning how to order a grilled cheese sandwich, a seemingly typical American food?!

How wrong we were, not just in the fact that we all thought the grilled cheese as typical American, but our base preparation methods (on a dare might you use Swiss cheese over a cheddar or [gasp] American cheese!).

So while it is hard to believe our fresh picked apple supply is barely beginning to dwindle (I won’t even go into how many batches of apple chips, have been produced), a gooey cheese sandwich seemed like a perfect pairing with some crisp juicy apples on a fall morning, mais non? And for the dear reader, yet another recipe to put those fall apples to good use.

Serving Size= 2 sandwiches. Active time= about 15 minutes (less if bacon and mushrooms are already prepared).
* 2-4 slices thick cut bacon (have your butcher custom cut thickness to any size you like)
* small handful mushrooms like baby bella or button, sliced into quarters
* 1 tablespoon sliced onions
* gruyere (or like) cheese, sliced; enough to cover 1 slice of bread
* 1 small Rome, Empire or Granny Smith apple, sliced into 16 wedges
* roasted garlic paste (optional; if available)*
* 4 slices good white bread
* 1 tablespoons unsalted butter

1) In a hot frying pan, cook the bacon until desired crispness is reached. While bacon is frying, keep an eye on it and slice the mushrooms, onions and apples.
2) Once bacon is complete, transfer to paper towels, drain fat from pan, return the pan to the stovetop and on medium-high heat, sauté mushrooms and onions. While mushrooms and onions cook, prepare the bread.
3) On 2 slices of bread, spread an ample amount of roasted garlic paste (optional). Cover bread with a layer of gruyere, a layer of sliced apples and 1-2 slices of bacon. Set aside.
4) Once mushrooms are browned and onions are translucent (about 8 minutes) transfer to a bowl and carefully wipe pan dry.
5) Turn heat to medium, melt ½ tablespoon of butter in the pan. Transfer prepared bread halves (with cheese, apples and bacon) onto the pan, top with mushroom-onion mixture, place second slice of bread over top and allow bread to brown and cheese to melt; about 4 minutes. Flip carefully, add ½ tablespoon butter to pan and move sandwiches around to pick up butter (allowing the butter to brown, not the bread to burn). Let sit about 3 minutes, remove from pan and eat hot and delicious.

* roasted garlic paste is a cinch make (and cost effective if you’ll be roasting something else in the oven). Simply take a whole head of garlic and slice the top off clean (to barely give you access to the cloves). Wrap in tin foil and place in the oven (around 350F) for 30-45 minutes. Remove and let cool. Once cool, pop the garlic cloves from their shells and transfer to a small dish. Add about 3 tablespoons olive oil and stir to breakdown garlic and incorporate olive oil into a uniform paste. Great on sandwiches, over meat, in potatoes or mixed into a salad dressing.

Check out other Fall Feast-ival items over at WellFed's FitFare!

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