Grilled cheeses are underrated. Look at this one.
I think it is time to upgrade the status of grilled cheese from emergency dinner to one that we plan for. I'm gonna build time into my schedule to love myself with grilled cheese and you should do the same.
Here's a piece of information: this food blog is directly inspired by Joy The Baker. Joy is a cool, liberated lady who talks to me about donuts and real life. Joy is the reason I write this blog and I hope you'll check her out. About 5 years ago she posted a recipe for French onion soup grilled cheese which introduced me to the wonders of properly caramelized onions. I hope that I can pass that knowledge on to you.
Caramelized onions are my favorite food. Raw onions yield to time and fat and a little sugar to become a thousand times more than anyone ever thought they could. I also yield to time and fat. Don't we all? The recipe below can easily be scaled to create much more of what is essentially onion jam - a food product that I promise is a million times better than it sounds.
There's no cheating with these onions. Don't turn the heat up. You're reducing them, which takes time and love and stirring and lazily standing over the stove while you drink tea and stare into the distance. Take your time. There's something indulgent about spending time on a grilled cheese. (Or maybe it's indulgent because it involves so much butter.)
Caramelized onions also have the wow factor of filling your house with their aroma in a way that causes exclamation of amazement from roommates returning home from whatever "class" they said they had to attend.
The most important measure of the quality of a grilled cheese is, in my (not humble) opinion, the sound it makes when you bite into it. If you make someone a grilled cheese, you should hear them bite into it from the next room over. There should also be ample cheese dribbling down their chin. If these two things don't happen, you need to revaluate your life skills. You heard me.
It is not visible for all the other delicious toppings, but there is also sweet potato puree all up in this business. Ideally, you might be making this the day after you made something else with sweet potatoes, but if not, just saute about half a sweet potato in a little olive oil and salt and pepper while you're doing this whole process, making sure not to let them get too crispy and browned.
caramelized onion and sweet potato grilled cheese
- 1 yellow onions
- 1/2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp apple cider
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 sweet potato
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 slices fresh bread, with one side of each buttered
- cheese to taste (i used sharp cheddar)
Slice onions and place in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Melt butter and mix onions so the they separate and are covered with butter. Cook for about two minutes, then stir, then cook for two more minutes. Add salt and pepper, stirring to combine evenly.
Slice sweet potatoes and saute with olive oil, stirring occasionally until softened. If the pieces are getting to browned and crispy, add a few tablespoons of water and cover so the potatoes steam a little.
If your onions are browning and getting crispy in spots, turn the heat down a little. Cover for 4 minutes, then stir and cover again. Alternate stirring and covering until the onions are soft and brown, about 20-25 minutes. Once they're soft and brown and delicious, add your apple cider and stir, deglazing the pan. (this just means that any of the crunchy, burned bits that are stuck to the bottom should come off and combine for a deeper flavor. Cover and simmer for 1 more minute, before removing from the heat to rest.
Mash your sweet potatoes with a fork, adding salt and pepper to taste and whole milk to smooth it out.
Place bread butter side down in a frying pan and turn the burner to medium heat. Spread sweet potato puree on one or both pieces of bread, depending on how much you have and how much you like sweet potatoes. Spoon your onions onto one side, and lay slices of cheese on the other.
Cover your frying pan for about 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Then sandwich-ify your bread. The bread should be very toasted, almost burnt. If not, continue cooking, flipping to avoid full-on burnage.