Grilled Cheese Strikes Back

cheese 2

Now, everyone loves a good grilled cheese. Let’s just all accept that as fact. That being said, I occasionally feel the idea is played out. Right, I get it. Bread, butter, cheese, grill, yadda, yadda,….. I’m sure it’s good but what else have you got? Inevitably, just as this thought is crossing my mind something new and wonderful and undiscovered (to me anyway) appears on the scene- or in this case, my plate. Such is the case with these Balsamic, Onion, Garlic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

The real enjoyable part of this sandwich is the onions; the sweat, flavorful onions. We happened to have some red raspberry balsamic vinegar from one of Megan’s ingredient buying binges so we used that when caramelizing the onions. I’m sure you could use any variety of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar or whatever other fun booze that will impart a fruity note to the onions.

The garlic isn’t where you’d expect it to be when first looking at this recipe. The garlic gets minced and mixed in the with the butter, which is then spread on the inside of the bread. Be warned, if garlic isn’t your thing, then these sandwiches are definitely not for you. Let me say that the raw garlic in the sandwich really packs a punch and goes oh so nicely with the caramelized onions and Gruyere and mozzarella cheese. We used some high dollar sourdough bread from the store to make these, but I’m sure there are plenty of bread options that would work. As with any grilled cheese the important things is that the bread slices not be too thick.

In the interest of having your cake and eating it too (i.e. enjoying the sandwich and still being approachable afterwards) I tried making one sandwich by foregoing the raw garlic and just mixing the butter with the some garlic powered. It was alright, but not nearly as good. The onions are very flavorful and the bite of the raw garlic really plays well with them.


Assembling this whole mess can be a little fiddly, but once it gets in the pan it actually holds together pretty well. And the results, both in looks and taste, are AMAZING! Let us know what you think (unless you’re a pinko commie who can’t stand garlic).

Balsamic, Onion, Garlic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 sandwiches
  • 8 slices of white bread
  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (You can also use garlic powder, depending on your love for garlic)
  • 4 small onions, or 2 large, thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig of thyme, leaves chopped
  • 1 teaspoon raspberry balsamic vinegar (any vinegar with fruity notes will work)
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese, grated
  • ½ cup mozzarella, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a large saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over low/medium heat. Caramelize the onions, and stir occasionally, until they are golden. This will take closer to a half hour. When they are cooked to perfection, toss the onions with the vinegar and thyme leaves and season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds fresh pepper.
  2. Combine half of the remaining butter with the garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the garlic butter on one side of the bread. Cover with ¼ gruyere cheese and top with ¼ cup of the onions. Spread the garlic butter on another piece of bread and top with a handful of mozzarella. Close the sandwich and spread the regular butter on the outside. Repeat with the other 3 sandwiches.
  4. Preheat a saute pan to medium high heat. When the pan is hot add the sandwiches, two at a time. Cook until golden on both sides and the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes.

……..I don’t know, something with cheese

whole sandwich

Cheese on top of cheese on top of more cheese. It doesn’t get much better than this. For our lunch with grandpa we made croque monsieur. I had never had these, but Nathan had them in Europe and they were an excellent suggestion.

First, you make the cheese sauce. CHEESE SAUCE!

Cheese sauce

Next, you toast the bread and start assembling the sandwiches.

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Is your mouth watering yet?

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Ina says to slather the cheese sauce. So we did.

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Due to poor planning (surprise!) we ran out of the shredded cheese. So we used Swiss on three of our sandwiches. And while we’re on the subject of cheese…we used gouda in place of gruyere . Unfortunately, gruyere was nowhere to be found at the store.

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My favorite part is watching the cheese melt and bubble in the oven.

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These were absolutely amazing! The next day we reheated our leftovers for lunch. I was surprised at how beautifully they reheated. On day 1, the Swiss cheese hardly browned at all under the broiler. But were a lovely golden brown the second day.

Give these a try. You will not be disappointed.

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Croque Monsieur
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 sandwiches
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • Dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, ½ cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
  3. To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
  4. Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.