Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Grown-up Grilled Cheese with Roasted Tomato Bisque

Friends, the photo here does not do this meal justice.  This is some seriously amazing Grown-Up Grilled Cheese, with Roasted Tomato Soup.  In my ongoing quest to find good, "relatively" healthy, quick weeknight dinners, I found these recipes on Food Network, by Jeff Mauro, the "Sandwich King".  I happened to watch the "Next Food Network Star" show when he competed, and thought that he had good personality and some good ideas, so I thought this recipe could be a hit. And Mmm, mmm, it is. 

It starts out with some caramelized onions.  Now, personally, I think that anything that involves caramelized onions is likely going to be delicious.  They are magical.  Raw onions?  Not so much.  But cook the heck out of those onions with some oil/butter and KA-POWIE, they are delectable!  Add some gruyere cheese to that and you have bliss in a sandwich.  So, this recipe isn't totally "quick" if you don't plan ahead with the caramelized onions, but here is a tip for that.  Some time, when you are home for a bit, make up a GIGANTIC batch of caramelized onions.  Use a zillion onions.  They cook down a lot, so you certainly (unfortunately) won't end up with a ton of caramelized onions.  HOWEVER, if you find that you have more than you could possibly need for whatever your initial intended purpose, you can FREEZE them in smaller amounts that you can then USE LATER.  Pull out a portion, let it thaw in the refrigerator, and you are ready.  No sweat.

Back to the sandwich!  To make this grown-up grilled cheese, place two pieces of country white bread or sourdough bread (per serving) on a cutting board.  Slap a thin layer of mayo on the top of one piece of bread.  You might be thinking, "mayo?  Yuck" but give this a chance.  My mayo-hating husband loves grilled cheese this way, I just had to sneak it in one day and he was sold!  The mayo gives the sandwich an extra zip.  Don't confuse "salad dressing" with "mayo".  I am talking about the Hellmann's-type stuff here.  On the top of the mayo, lay a big enough slice of gruyere cheese to cover the entire piece of bread.  Put some caramelized onions on top  of the cheese.  You choose the amount you want - I won't judge!  Then put some more gruyere cheese on the top of the cheese and place the other piece of bread on top.  Butter both sides of the sandwich with some salted butter and place on a medium-low griddle.  Cover the sandwich with a metal bowl.  This allows the bottom of the sandwich to get nice and crisp but helps the cheesy middle to get nice and gooey.  Yum.  After about 2 or 3 minutes, flip the sandwich and cover again with the bowl.  Cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown.  Mmmm. 
Printable Recipe

I made this sandwich for dinner one night.  Then I ate another for lunch the next day.  And then again the day after.  And then I was very sad and depressed when I ran out of caramelized onions.  Woe is me!

The best way to serve ANY grilled cheese sandwich, and definitely this one, is with a bowl of tomato soup.  Do not open a can for this.  Making your own is easy and WAY more delicious than anything that can come out of a can! 

Roasted Tomato Bisque
adapted from Food Network

2 28-oz. cans whole tomatoes, drained
1 TB olive oil
1 TB light brown sugar
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 shallots, quartered
freshly ground pepper
3 TB unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB tomato paste
2 TB dry sherry
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1-2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
up to 1/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Combine the whole tomatoes, olive oil, sugar, carrots and shallots in a mixing bowl.  Toss to coat evenly.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast until caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Heat a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the butter and allow to cook until it begins to foam.  Add the crushed red pepper and garlic, and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the sherry, and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 1 or 2 minutes.  Add the roasted vegetables, crushed tomatoes, and 1 cup of the chicken or vegetable stock.  Season wih salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Add whatever amount of heavy cream you choose.  You could add NONE, or add in up to about 1/4 cup, your choice!  Puree the soup with an immersion blender, until it is uniform in texture.  Add more chicken stock to thin the soup to a consistency that you prefer!
Printable Recipe

Try this out.  You will never look at a grilled cheese sandwich the same way again!  Now I want to figure out other amazing ways to do grilled cheese....  Any ideas?

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