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Just Five: French Onion Grilled Cheese

November 14th 02:11pm, 2012

When I graduated college, I fantasized about owning a restaurant that was only open for lunch and only served specialty grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade soups. There is a really cool couple, Susana and Dave Lowell, who must have felt the same way I did, at least about grilled cheese sandwiches. Through their grilled cheese stand, The Big Cheese, they are living my dream, making amazing combinations with excellent ingredients and serving them at the Tower Grove Farmers Market and Webster Groves Farmers Market. Perhaps you remember when I wrote about their strawberry grilled cheese?

Now the Lowell’s have done it again, hitting on one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever eaten by incorporating the flavors of French onion soup. One bite of this sandwich left me giggling like a child. There was no doubt that I needed to make it into a Just Five dish. The process to mixing the salty beef stock flavor in with the caramelized onion seemed to be the obstacle. I could’ve cooked the onions and then cooked them again in beef stock, but honestly, preparing a grilled cheese sandwich really doesn’t need to be a major life event; I mean, for the love, it’s not a turducken! Instead, I used a classic restaurant cheat – beef base. Chicken and beef base are in my fridge at all times (don’t judge); it’s pretty common for restaurant mashed potatoes to have a bit of chicken base in them – that’s why they’re better than the ones you make at home. Beef base is a great flavor booster as well, but this stuff is a salt bomb, so use it sparingly. Along with the beef base, thyme and yes, a whole onion, this sandwich is “slap your mama” good. Thanks for constant inspiration, Susana and Dave. Keep those sammies coming, and see you next season!

French Onion Grilled Cheese
1 Serving

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus a bit more for buttering the bread
1 medium yellow onion
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped, or 1 tsp. dried
1 tsp. beef base (available in the soup aisle near the stock)
¾ cup fontina cheese, grated
2 slices sourdough bread
Dash salt

• Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a nonstick skillet.
• Slice the onion very thinly, and add the onion slices and thyme to the skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes.
• Add the beef base and about 2 tablespoons of water, sauteeing until the onions are completely soft.
• While the onions cook, lightly butter 1 side of each slice of bread.
• Remove the onions from the skillet and set aside, but leave the heat on, under the skillet.
• Place 1 slice of bread, buttered side down, in the skillet and top with the shredded cheese and onions. Place the other slice of bread (buttered side out) on top, and press down gently with a spatula. After 1 to 2 minutes, check to see if the sandwich is browned on the bottom. When it is, carefully flip the sandwich and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the sandwich is browned on both sides.
• Sprinkle a bit of salt over the top of the sandwich and serve.

By Dee Ryan

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2 Responses to “Just Five: French Onion Grilled Cheese”

  1. Colleen Dempsey Dotson Says:
    November 14th, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Dee! This sounds amazing!!! I can’t wait to try it!

  2. Marvis Meyers Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I am a carmelized onion addict but really hated all of the stirring. Kitchen devices to the resuce! Food processor — slice as many onions as I can and still breathe (but at least 10-12 big yellows). Slow cooker — throw in one stick butter, one can beef stock/broth, onions. Cook for 4-5 hours. Scoop into a silicone muffin tin and freeze. I now have frozen onion balls at hand! I think I’ll get one out and do this sandwich…

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