Archive for the 'sandwiches' Category

Braised Short Rib Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions

ACE Grilled Cheese 1 Braised Short Rib Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions

I feel like I’ve been slingshot (can that be used as a verb?) straight into mid January, and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a grilled cheese sandwich.

I’ve decided that if I’m going to eat bread, it might as well be truly fantastic – and preferably used to bookend other divine ingredients, bound together by melty cheese. There are few things I love more than a grilled cheese sandwich, but too often everything gets ignored but the cheese.

Grilled cheese Collage Braised Short Rib Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions

Let’s start with the bread, shall we? This is a roasted garlic oval from ACE Bakery, with sweet, mellow roasted garlic right in the dough. It’s a good size – with enough structural integrity and a crisp crust. I used my friend Jessica’s trick – to mix grated Parmesan cheese into soft butter to spread on the outside of each slice, which creates an extra crunchy, cheesy exterior, maximizing those crispy edges.

Garlic bread 2 Braised Short Rib Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions

Inside – aged cheddar is my favourite, and I had some old orange and extra old white in the fridge, so I used both. Grated, it easily covers any surface area, and melts more quickly. And a spoonful of caramelized onions – it could be a batch of onion jam, or just chop or blitz an onion or two in the food processor, then saute it on the stovetop in a little oil and a little butter for 10 minutes, or until it all turns nice and dark and golden and sticky. I usually can’t help a quick splash of balsamic vinegar in there too, and a pinch of sugar if you want to help things along.

Grilled cheese 1 Braised Short Rib Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions

And that would be enough to make me happy, right there. But I’ve been braising plenty of beef or bison short ribs lately for some reason or other, which reminded me of how delicious bits of leftover short ribs are in a grilled cheese, and so I braised a batch just for this occasion. (The occasion being making them on Global on Saturday morning.)

Grilled cheese 2 Braised Short Rib Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions

You don’t need a lot of the beef; pulled off the bone, it’s so rich and intense – more the essence of beef than thinly sliced roast from the deli – a few chunks elevates this sandwich to the truly sublime.

ACE Grilled Cheese 2 Braised Short Rib Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions

Add woolly socks + a good book (or Downton Abbey on Netflix!) to get through a January weekend.

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese with Braised Short Ribs and Caramelized Onions

Short Ribs:
canola oil, for cooking
4-6 bison or beef short ribs
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 cup red wine or beer
1 cup beef or chicken stock (or more wine)

Caramelized Onions:
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (optional)
2 tsp. brown sugar
salt and pepper

grated aged white cheddar
ACE Bakery Roasted Garlic Oval loaf
soft butter or olive oil, for cooking
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat a drizzle of oil in a small, heavy oven-proof pot set over medium-high heat. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and brown on all sides; add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a minute, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Pour the wine overtop, and add enough stock to come about halfway up the sides of the ribs. Cover and cook at 300F for 2 1/2-3 hours, until the meat is very tender. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones and set aside. Meanwhile, set a heavy skillet over medium-high heat; add a generous drizzle of oil and cook the onions for 10 minutes, until soft and golden. Add the balsamic vinegar (if you’re using it) and cook for a minute, until it evaporates; add the brown sugar, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 5-8 minutes, until deep golden. Set aside to cool.

To assemble your grilled cheese sandwiches, slice the roasted garlic oval on a slight diagonal and layer with grated cheddar, caramelized onions, short rib and more cheddar. If you like, stir some grated Parmesan cheese into soft butter and spread on the outside of the sandwich; alternatively, brush with olive oil. Grill in a panini grill or in a hot skillet, turning as needed, until the cheese has melted and the sandwich is crusty and golden.

Makes as many as you’d like.

button print gry20 Braised Short Rib Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions

January 12 2014 | beef and cheese and sandwiches | 10 Comments »

Bacon & Tomato Jam

bacon tomato jam 3 Bacon & Tomato Jam

Just when I think I’ve tried everything (not really, but some days are more uninspiring than others) something comes along that is so much better than the sum of its familiar parts. Had I flipped past a recipe for bacon and tomato jam I would have certainly done a double take, but I’m not sure this would have jumped off the page and grabbed me – but when Shauna came to visit in Tofino and brought a copy of their latest book, she looked me straight in the eye as she handed it to me and said, “try the bacon and tomato jam.”

roasted plum tomatoes Bacon & Tomato Jam

It seemed at first as if she was speaking in code, like I was meant to read more into her message. I wasn’t. She just meant to make it clear that I should make the damn jam. And so I did.

bacon tomato jam 4 Bacon & Tomato Jam

This is not jam in the typical sense of the word – it’s sweet on account of the roasted tomatoes and bits of apple, but it’s not sugary, like strawberry jam or most almost candied bacon jams. It doesn’t gel, like breakfasty sorts of jams – it’s more a mash-up of delicious things. It’s not as tangy as chutney, but really its own thing – and I’m not exaggerating when I say I ate almost the whole batch straight from the pan with a fork, and barely saved enough to make a couple sandwiches.

bacon tomato jam 6 Bacon & Tomato Jam

You start by roasting tomatoes, which is not really a big deal – halve them, spread them out on a sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until they sort of slump in on themselves, and start getting dark and caramelized on their edges. Then you get some bacon going in a pan, and some onion and garlic – and then the tomatoes and apple and balsamic. Somehow it comes together into something that’s completely divine – and almost a sandwich filling of its own accord.

bacon tomato jam 2 Bacon & Tomato Jam

I would eat this striaght-up on toast. But why wouldn’t you add a fried egg?

bacon tomato jam 1 Bacon & Tomato Jam

I took Shauna’s advice and spread it on bread, and added an egg – this on a crusty baguette, but you could of course use any kind of sandwich bread. Crusty seems like a good idea. Mike commented between bites that it tasted like something you’d get at a restaurant – at Market, or something – and I imagine it would elevate a grilled cheese quite nicely. I’ve had sandwiches on the brain since being asked to be a judge – along with Bob Blumer – of Canada’s Best Sandwich contest, hosted by ACE Bakery to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. There will be winners in each region, and each receive $1000 plus $1000 for their favourite charity. BUT. We then choose 4 finalists who get to fly to Toronto in October – with me! – and we spend a day cooking and then choosing a winner, who will receive $20,000 – $10,000 for our winner plus $10,000 for their favourite charity. How awesome is that? I love the charitable aspect – I would love to present one of my favourite charities with a cheque for ten grand. Wouldn’t that be grand? (And I would love to take my own ten and spend it on a new fridge/stove/dishwasher. Or a trip to Paris. Or take my niece to a soccer game in Spain. Or…)

But seriously. Try the jam.

Bacon & Tomato Jam

about 10 ripe plum tomatoes
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 slices bacon, chopped
2 medium shallots or 1 small sweet onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2-1 small apple, peeled and finely diced
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a rimmed sheet with foil or parchment.

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and lay them cut-side up on the baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and roast for an hour, until they start to shrivel and darken on the edges.

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, cook the bacon in a drizzle of oil until it’s nicely browned. Set it aside on a plate, leaving the drippings.

Cook the shallots or onion and garlic for a few minutes, until it softens. Add the basil and cook for another minute. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for another minute (it will reduce immediately) and then stir in the apples, browning them a bit. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking everything apart with a spoon (mostly the tomatoes) until it thickens. It won’t take long.

Season with salt and pepper and stir in the bacon. Keep cooking it, if you like, until it’s thicker and softer, and try not to eat it all out of the pan as you go.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups – enough for 4-6 sandwiches.

pixel Bacon & Tomato Jam
button print gry20 Bacon & Tomato Jam

September 20 2013 | preserves and sandwiches | 18 Comments »

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