Most nights I cook a nice from-scratch meal for dinner. But I am only human and some nights I just don’t feel like cooking. Or I have other things going on and need a quick dinner option. The go-to quick meal option for most people is probably a sandwich, and so it was for myself and hubby Brian, last Saturday night. But just because you are having a sandwich doesn’t mean it has to be boring and uninteresting. It can be a decadent meal and full of great flavors. A great sandwich, in my opinion, starts with great bread. None of that pre-sliced white fluffy off-the-shelf stuff will do! Make the effort to go to the store’s bakery section and ask the baker to slice up a ciabatta, a crusty Italian loaf, or a baguette. For our beef and brie sandwiches, I chose to use a French baby boule. Choose good cheeses, condiments, and good deli meats or roasted meat leftovers. Sure, you can use bologna and individually-wrapped American cheese (is that really cheese – really??!), but if you have a bit more time on your hands and want to make a sandwich that your friends and family will be talking about, go for some fresh deli-sliced roast beef (preferably the no-hormones or antibiotics kind), a package of good quality brie, spicy mustard, caramelized onions, mushrooms!!! Mmmm, mmm.
Give yourself an extra 30 minutes of lead time to make caramelized onions (or make ahead). It’s not enough just to sauté them – caramelization is a “low and slow” process. For two sandwiches, I thinly sliced up about a half a red onion. Warm some olive oil in a pan on medium, and sauté the onion slices until they start to turn soft and clear. Then add a splash of balsamic vinegar (for extra sweetness and tartness) and turn the heat down to about medium-low. Cover and let cook for another 20 minutes or so, occasionally stirring… you will see the onions start to turn brown and get that great sweet smell and caramelization…
While the onions are cooking, thinly slice a few baby bella (crimini) mushrooms. When the onions are caramelized, remove with a slotted spoon to a separate dish. Now throw the mushroom slices into the leftover olive oil, and sauté for just a few minutes, until they are soft and you can smell the mushroom fragrance. Remove the pan from the heat. To assemble the sandwiches, just follow these instructions:
Spread some mayo (if you like that), and spicy mustard on a slice of bread.
Pre-heat the oven to 350, and pop the assembled sandwich halves into the oven for just a few minutes, until the cheese gets nice and melty. Then pull them out, top with a handful of greens (I used arugula), and another slice of bread. Sandwiches are done and they are divine!!
Serve with some home-made sweet potato fries.