Are you a cheese lover or not? I hope you are because today we are going to have something cheesy, as in super cheesy delicious. It’s grilled cheese day today so let’s say hello to this Caramelized Onion with Mushroom & Spinach Grilled Cheese. What a long name, but that’s exactly what it is. It’s a grilled cheese with onions that had been cooked until soft and sweet, plus the mighty spinach and a plenty of melted cheese all in once crispy butter crunchy double cheese grilled cheese.
I love grilled cheese as much as I love anything with cheese, the likes of Vegetarian Lasagna or my Bake Four Cheese and Garlic Spaghetti Squash. But then again, what’s there not to like about cheese? I cannot imagine my life without dairy at all. No real cheese, no real chocolates, no real ice cream? Although there are a lot of healthy cooking that provides good substitute for dairy, I still cannot think of life without real dairy, that’s just how my brain is wired. I have great respect and admiration to people who are Vegan but the most that I can do is eat plenty of vegetables to compensate for my sweets addiction.
April Grilled Cheese Flavor of the Month
Caramelized Onion with Mushroom & Spinach Grilled Cheese is my choice for my April grilled cheese flavor of the month. I always believe that you can never go wrong with the combination of these 3 ingredients and I was right. The important thing to remember for this variation is to make sure to brown the onions so that natural sweetness of the onion comes out. Although caramelization normally takes longer like 30 minutes – 1 hour like when making French Onion Soup, we don’t have to do it that long. If you are making a really large batch to feed groups of people, then maybe it’s worth doing it because you will be using a lot of onions. For this case, I only used 50 grams because I only made 1 grilled cheese and it doesn’t make sense to cook it for 1 hour. 3 minutes is good enough, it’s nicely soft and nicely browned. I added 1 tsp of brown sugar to enhance the natural sweetness of the onion since I’m not cooking it long enough to extract the flavor. The mushrooms were cut slightly thin but not too thin, I like some texture in my grilled cheese. I cooked it for 3 minutes after adding it with the onions. Some mushroom produces water as it cooks, in my case I used white mushroom and it doesn’t have much water. If yours comes out with a plenty of water, continue cooking until the water evaporates. For the spinach, I added it at the end because I don’t want a mushy spinach. I covered the pan with a lid to allow the steam to cook the spinach quickly. As soon as they are soft, I’m done with cooking it. Last but not the least, sprinkle of salt and peppers just to give it some kick of heat.
What is the perfect cheese for grilled cheese?
This is always debatable as different people have difference preference when it comes to cheese and what type of cheese is available in the area, but regardless of which brand you pick, make sure you are using a good quality cheese. You do not have to restrict yourself to only one kind of cheese, You can mix 2 types of cheese for even greater flavor. here are some of the common cheese used for grilled cheese
- American Cheese – Kraft singles? Velveeta? Sounds familiar? This is a common got to cheese for most people as it is budget friendly and it does melt really well. In my case though, I don’t normally use this as I find it lacking in taste and flavor and melts like plastic.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese – This is the cheese commonly used in restaurant grilled cheese. Nice taste, melts good and easy to find.
- Swiss Cheese – Mild flavor and firm (and stretchy) texture are perfect for melting, easy to find.
- Provolone Cheese – Flavorful but not to sharp, melts just right without being too runny.
- Pepper Jack Cheese – If you are looking for a flavorful cheese that would give you a step up in your grilled cheese, try Pepper Jack. It is one flavorful cheese.
Youc an also mix and match cheese. Use a second cheese that have strong flavor, it doesn’t have to be something that melts easily. These are the like of
- Blue Cheese or Feta Cheese
- Goat Cheese
- Havarti Cheese
Grilled cheese is a very simple dish but there are few key things that you should remember to get the nice crunchy texture of the bread and a nice doze of melting cheese. Keep these in mind and you will surely end up with a mouth watering grilled cheese on your plate.
Tips to a Successful Grilled Cheese
- Use Butter or Mayonnaise – Fat. You need to use fat to grease the bread. What makes the grilled cheese great aside from the cheese itself is the crunchy and buttery crisp bread and this is achieved by spreading some fat to the bread before laying it down on the pan. Spread enough fat to cover the entire outside of bread, more or less 2 tsp but not too much that you will feel like gross out with all the oil coming out from it when you eat it.
- Thick Sliced Bread, is a NO – It’s tempting because it looks good to use a thick slice bread but that is a definite No, No. If the bread is sliced too thick, it will take long time for the heat to penetrate the center of the bread. The bread could end up already too crunchy or possibly burnt, but the cheese is not yet melted. I would say go for the regular thickness of bread that you usually see in grocery. If you are having them sliced, request it to be regular not thick.
- Right Cheese – Right kind of cheese, right thickness of cheese and right amount of cheese. These 3 are key to having a nice grilled cheese. If you are cutting the cheese to slices, cut as thin as possible so that it melts easily. Now the amount, it has to be the right amount of cheese, you don’t want a puddle of cheese oozing out and spreading in the pan. It is a grilled cheese we already know that, but you don’t have to go over board to prove its a grilled cheese. Depending on the size of your bread, I would say about 1/3 cup – 1/2 cup or 4 thinly slices of cheese.
- Low – Medium Heat – Patience, don’t go bumping up your heat to high to melt the cheese fast. You want an even cooking inside and out, and low to medium heat is the key to this. You can also cover the pan with a lid to create steam to help the cheese melts, once melted remove the lid and continue cooking.
There you go, 4 tips to remember and your on your way to the BEST grilled cheese ever. Regardless of what variation you are making, these tips comes handy to achieving the crisp and nice melting grilled cheese. Let’s put it to use!
- 50g fresh mushroom – I used white mushroom, cremini and button will work too
- 1 tsp flavorless oil
- 1 small onion – chopped
- 2 cloves garlic – minced
- 1/4 tsp chili flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tsp butter
- 2 slices of bread – I used my Homemade Whole Wheat Slice Bread
- 1/2 cup cheese (I’m using quite a large bread, for regular size slice bread use 1/3 -1/2 cup or 3-4 slices of cheese)
- Prepare Mushroom: In a heated pan, add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes until soft and browned. Add in the mushroom and cook for another 3 minutes or until the water from mushroom evaporates. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Butter up: Spread 2 tsp of butter or mayonnaise in one side of each bread. The side of the bread with butter will be facing down when you put it in the pan.
- Divide the cheese into 2 portion and Put 1/2 of the cheese portion on the side of the bread without butter. Add mushroom and onion mixture and arrange the remaining half of the cheese on top. Cover with another bread, the side with the butter should be facing out.
- Optional: To have a crunchy cheese coating on top of the bread, sprinkle 1 tbsp shredded cheese on the side of the bread with butter on it. Do this for each slice bread. It will create a nice crispy cheese crust once the cheese melts, so good!
- Transfer the bread in a medium heated pan, buttered side of the bread facing down and cook each side for 5 – 7 minutes or until the outside of the bread is crunchy.
- Slice and serve while hot.
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