I think I'm a little late jumping onto the whole grilled cheese bandwagon- especially since its national month has already come and gone. Still, better late than never, right? Especially when you have homemade bread to submerge in cheese.
Is it just me or has grilled cheese become even more amazing over the past year? The different combinations of ingredients and flavours I've seen the food community chug out make my mouth water. I want to try all of them! I mean, just think back to when you were a kid and grilled cheese meant just two slices of white bread with kraft cheese. Not like there's anything wrong with that (best hangover cure, if you ask me). But now, I'm seeing sloppy joe grilled cheese, guacamole grilled cheese, even chocolate parmesan grilled cheese (now that I have to try).
I guess that just goes to show how even the simplest, most nostalgic dishes can be made into an explosion of culinary creativity. And that's just poetic. So here's my contribution: a mouthwatering, savoury combination of Caribbean chutney, sharp cheddar and caramelized onions, all on homemade bread. I came upon papaya chutney on my last day in Jamaica. My mom wanted to get rid of her last few hundred Jamaican dollars and told me to pick something to bring home. I spotted the papaya chutney and thought: 'now that sounds good'. I was wondering what it would taste like- whether it would be sweet or tangy- when I first did try it I was surprised. It has the almost same sort of taste as caramelized onions, but it's more savoury than sweet. The sweetness kicks in just a bit to give it a unique, addictive taste. This is the first time I've used it in a recipe, but, man, did it deliver! If you can find papaya chutney, buy it! It's the kind of ingredient that makes you want to experiment.
Papaya Chutney Grilled Cheese
• 4 slices of your favourite bread
• 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
• 2 tbsp papaya chutney (can be found at your local Caribbean store or Asian market. If you can't find it, I suggest using tomato chutney or any other savoury spread)
• 6 slices old cheddar
• 1 tbsp butter or margarine, softened
• 1 tbsp mayonnaise
Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let caramelize for 5-10 minutes, or until a deep golden. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.
Mix together the butter and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Set aside.
Spread 1 tbsp of papaya chutney on 1 slice of bread. Top with half of the caramelized onions and 3 slices of cheese. Close the sandwich with another slice of bread. Repeat with the second sandwich.
Heat a skillet at medium heat. Spread the butter/mayo mixture on the outside of each sandwich. Pan-fry on each side until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is gooey and amazing, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from heat and enjoy.