Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve Dinner: French Onion Soup and Bacon-Gruyere Panini

Tonight's dinner turned out so yummy that the dishes aren't even cleared from the table yet, and I'm already writing it up.

For the soup:
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter*

  • 5 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme

  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, coarsely sliced (optional)

  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 4 cups low sodium beef broth

  • 1 bay leaf

  • salt and pepper

*If using unsalted butter, add 1/4 tsp salt with the onions in step 1.

  1. In a medium stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat.

  2. Add the onions and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until carmelized. This will take about 20-30 minutes. The onions should be much smaller and a dark brown color (but not burned.

  3. Add mushrooms, if using, towards the end of the carmelization.

  4. Deglaze the stockpot with the balsamic vinegar, scraping to loosen as much of the fond on the bottom of the pan as possible. Cook until it no longer smells vinegary (3-4 minutes).

  5. Add beef broth and bay leaf. Simmer 20-30 minutes until hot. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Serve hot, with the panini on the side. Serves 4.

For the panini:
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon

  • 10 slices thin sandwich bread (I used a multigrain)

  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions

  • 2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

  1. Heat panini press according to directions. If you don't have a panini press or a stove-top grill pan, then heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, and consider buttering the bread (for the panini, I did NOT use butter)

  2. Cook bacon till crispy (in a frying pan, oven, however you normally cook bacon). Drain on paper towels.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the grated cheese, mayonnaise, onions, and seasoning.

  4. For each sandwich, add about 1/2 cup of cheese mixture and top with bacon. With my bread, I ended up with 5 sandwiches. Your mileage may vary.

  5. Toast panini on the press until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, about 5-6 minutes.

  6. Serve hot with french onion soup. Makes 5 sandwiches, but only serves 4 people. :)

Notes: Yes, I got a new toy. A panini maker. Technically, a griddle/grill/waffle maker/panini maker. And in the spirit of my new things from this year, tonight's dinner counted twice. This was my first ever attempt at making French Onion Soup (it was easy!!), and first time making a panini. So far, we've used the new toy 4 times this week: grilled porkchops, grilled steaks, waffles, and now Bacon Gruyere Panini. I have yet to break in the griddle plates.

Oh yes, and if you were counting bacon slices in that panini recipe and wonder where I learned to count, congratulations. You get to eat the extra slice of bacon next time around. It was yummy too.

Credit where credit is due: I based the panini recipe from a Deluxe Grilled Cheese Sandwiches recipe from our local grocery store for the panini recipe. Their version called for thick cut sourdough bread and lots more butter. My way was sufficiently rich.


flatflo said...


How much balsamic vinegar? I will have to try it when I have some one to feed besides Dave!

Kristi said...

Good catch Laura. About 3 tbsp (I sort of eyeballed it). I updated the recipe above, too, so that the next person doesn't have to read all the comments.

And, hubby suggests that sherry might work instead of the vinegar.