The Kitchen Prep: Brunch Week: Caramelized Onion & Bacon Croque Monsieur

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Brunch Week: Caramelized Onion & Bacon Croque Monsieur

Where do you find cooking inspiration?

Is it from ordinary life events? The nostalgia of old family favorites? Do you get creative in the kitchen for holidays and celebrations? Or get motivated by your travels and ingredients that knock your socks off?

For me, it's all of the above.

Sometimes, I go directly to the source of cooking genius: Talented chefs that have a proven record of creating delectable dishes. It's like a cooking cheat sheet!

Whether it's watching the Food Network and taking note of ideas that stand out to me, or allowing my palate to do the research by heading out to restaurants and letting the flavors do the talking, I am always left inspired by the pros.

After all, they've practiced, they've sampled, they've slaved away in hot kitchens... they've done all the work for us and have given us the finished product of a well planned meal or dish that tickles the taste buds.

While I was devising my brunch week menu, I was asked if I'd take a look at some recipes created by both well-known and up-and-coming chefs and create my own spin on their masterpieces, and since that's typically my style anyway, I happily agreed to do so!

And so the Caramelized Onion and Bacon Croque Monsieur came to be... born of Chef François Payard's fanciful twist on the already delightful Croque Monsieur  {a gussied up French hot ham & cheese}.

Chef François' version, the Smoked Salmon Croque Monsieur, replaced the traditional ham version with a protein of a more aquatic nature. It's like good ol' Bagels and Lox went to France, fell in love with their fancy interpretation of grilled cheese, and wound up with this mouthwatering creation!

As amazing as the salmon rendition of this sandwich sounds, I don't typically have smoked salmon on hand. But after all of my Derby cooking last week, I did have an excess amount of bacon taking up quite a bit of space in the fridge.


I did the next best thing. Maybe even THE best thing. Because when is bacon not the best idea?

Sweet, caramelized onions with a salty bacon bite {and a hint of rosemary} serve as the main filling for this decadent brunch {or anytime!} main. Topped with bubbly, melted fontina cheese, this certainly isn't your every day sandwich... though you'll wish it were!

While I did adapt the recipe quite a bit, I used Chef François' method of preparation, and though it requires a few more steps than just throwing the old grilled cheese on a skillet, I think it makes for toasty perfection! Using a cast iron skillet {like one from our sponsor, Lodge Cast Iron!} produces nice, even heat for all-over browning. Chef François' technique also allows for pre-assembling the sandwiches in their happy little foil packets ahead of time, which is a great way to cut on prep time if you're hosting a brunch and don't want to be in the kitchen the whole time.

P.S. If you haven't yet entered the giveaway for all of the swoon-worthy prizes being provided by our lovely sponsors, make sure you do so today! {And if you haven't seen what the prizes are, head over to Monday's post for pics!}

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Brunch Week will be going on until Saturday, May 11th, when we'll announce the winners for all the loot during a PinChatLive at 2pm EST over on our Brunch Week Pinterest Board. {Hint: Go check it out!}

Looking for something other than onion-y, bacon-y goodness for your brunch menu? You're in luck... I've got oodles of recipes to be inspired by for you! You can thank these bloggers for their brunch makin' skills. ;)

Brunch Recipes with Eggs

Asparagus and Leek Frittata by Rachel Cooks
Baked Ham and Egg Cups by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Deviled Egg Spread with Home Rolled Crackers by Vanilla Lemonade
Veggie Quiche Cups by Take A Bite Out of Boca
Asparagus and Eggs in Mornay Sauce by Noshing With The Nolands

Brunch Recipes with Potatoes

Traditional Home Fries by Sarcastic Cooking

Meat, Poultry and Fish Brunch Recipes

Chicken Pockets by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Turkey Dill Crepes by Kokocooks

Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-type Yums

Cherry Coconut Granola by Katie's Cucina
Brioche by poet in the pantry by poet in the pantry
Gold Goddess Steel Cut Oats by The Vintage Cook
Quick and Easy Early Morning Parfaits by Cravings of a Lunatic
Belgian Liege Waffles by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen

Fruit and Vegetable Brunch Recipes

Warm Salad Three Ways by Cook the Story

Spreads for Brunch

Black & Blue Thyme Jam by Cooking In Stilettos

Brunch Dessert Recipes

Crumb-Top Blueberry Muffins by Love and Confections
Banana Walnut Scone (Gluten Free/Dairy Free) by Around My Family Table
Croissant & Chocolate Bread Pudding by White Lights on Wednesday
Honey Poached Pear “Sundae” by Amanda’s Apron
Strawberries and Cream Muffins by The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook
Lemon Poke Cake by Real Housemoms

Caramelized Onion & Bacon Croque Monsieur
Inspired by Chef François Payard, FP Patisserie

1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 small sprigs fresh rosemary, finely minced {or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary}
1/4 cup white wine, chicken broth, or preferred cooking liquid
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup fontina cheese, grated
4 slices whole wheat bread
4 strips of bacon, crisply cooked using your prefered method
2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Stir in minced rosemary, and continue to cook. When the onions start to get dry, add a bit of liquid at a time {I used white wine, but you can use just about any liquid you'd like} to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits that are stuck to the bottom. 

2. Continue to cook {and stir, and deglaze} for about 15 minutes until soft and deeply caramelized. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat the heavy cream with a whisk until it is thickened - season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add about 2 tablespoons of grated fontina and fold it in carefully as not to deflate the cream.

4. Spread the cream mixture evenly on 4 pieces of whole wheat bread. Place caramelized onion on 2 of the bread slices, then top with cooked bacon. {I put a little extra onion on top of the bacon so it would be surrounded on all sides, but you can assemble yours the way you'd like!} Top each piece with the two remaining bread slices, cream side down. You'll have 2 sandwiches.

5. Butter the top and bottom of each sandwich liberally. {This will help it not to stick to the foil when it is cooked.}

6. Place each sandwich on top of a square of foil, and wrap completely. You'll have two wrapped sandwiches. {Try not to make the foil all bunched up, the flatter the better so it has contact with the skillet.}

7. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet {such as a cast iron skillet} over medium-high heat on the stove top. At this time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, as well. Place each wrapped sandwich directly onto the skillet and toast on each side for about a minute, pressing down slightly.

8. Remove the skillet from the stove top. Unwrap the sandwiches {carefully... they're hot!}, and make sure they are not sticking to the foil. Top each sandwich with remaining grated fontina. Leave the sandwiches on the skillet, each on their own piece of foil, and bake for about 6-8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

9. Slice in half {or in quarters, if you'd like} and serve warm. This sandwich goes nicely with a side salad. {With all that bacon & cheese, you might want to eat some greens!}  ;)


Jane Craske said...

My favourite sandwich!

Suzanne said...

Bacon and caramelized onion - what a great combination. Beautiful sandwiches!

Rachel Willis said...

Oh my word. Divine! Pinned and tweeted. Too good NOT to!

Tara said...

What a great looking sandwich, I would gobble that down in a second!!!

Kim Bee said...

Now this is a sandwich I can wrap my mouth around, and scarf in two bites. Seconds for me please.

Rachel Page said...

I could probably eat this every day!

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