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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Grilled Cheese Grows Up: Recipe

I have been working long hours lately for an amazing event taking place this week on Long Island (in Hempstead, NY...check out the news!) so there has been very little time left over for cooking - the priority in a time crunch belongs to family, of course. When I arrived home tonight I wanted to make something for dinner that would allow me to blog (and finally get rid of the chicken photo...), spend time with my family, and serve up a "fancy" meal. But I haven't gone food shopping in a week so all that was left was cheese, bread, onions, and some pancetta. Huh. I repeated the ingredients to myself a few more times and realized that a grilled cheese sandwich could get a face lift and appear more "grown-up." I love that!

The smokey flavor of the cheese contrasted with the salty meat and sweet onions was perfect. The pear gave it an even more delicious flavor. Not bad for nothing to eat!

A Grown-Up's Grilled Cheese
4 slices of pumpernickel-rye swirl bread
1 onion, sliced thin
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. Vermouth
2/3 cup diced pancetta
4 oz. smoked Gouda, grated
1 ripe pear, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. butter

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp. butter and saute onions for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring often. Sprinkle the sugar over the onion and stir well. Saute another 4 minutes over medium-high heat. It's OK if onions begin to brown - allow them to. Add the vermouth and stir and saute another 5 minutes, allowing onions to become very browned, almost Carmel in color. Remove from pan and place into a bowl.

In the same pan, with the left-over fat drippings, saute the pancetta over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes, allowing the pancetta to release its fat and become somewhat crispy. Remove pancetta from the pan, leaving the fat drippings.

Meanwhile, assemble a complete sandwich: spread a layer of onions over the bread, add 1/4 of the cheese, top with pancetta and then pear slices and cover them with another 1/4 of cheese. Top with bread and place in the pan over medium high heat. Grill the sandwich for about 2 minutes per side, adding 1 Tbsp. of butter, if needed, to the pan. Repeat with remaining sandwich.

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