How To Make Grilled Cheese With Marinated Onions

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  • 1/2-inch-thick slices La Brea Bakery Whole Grain Loaf
  • whole-grain mustard or Dijon mustard
  • Gruyere cheese, sliced 1/16-inch-thick (substitution: Swiss cheese)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • champagne or white wine vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/8-inch-thick
  • butter or olive oil

There’s very little that designates ‘home’ better than grilled cheese sandwiches. And is there anyone who doesn’t like them?

Jon Davis, vice president of concept development of La Brea Bakery, Van Nuys, California, makes his with Gruyère cheese, which he says has a very nutty, pungent flavor. Any Swiss cheese can be substituted, but more will likely be needed, as the flavor is less strong, he adds.

And while the simple, traditional sandwich is good, Davis likes to add marinated onions to his. Other additions he enjoys are ham or bacon (which adds texture and smokiness). He’s also a big fan of scallions and perhaps his favorite is a little garlic rubbed onto the outside of the toasted bread. “It adds a little extra dynamic,” he says.

  1. Preheat panini grill to high setting or skillet to moderate heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the onions, toss to coat them, and allow to marinate for 15-20 minutes at room temperature. Don’t marinate the onions for too long if you want them to hold up through the cooking process.
  3. Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread (or brush with olive oil). Place half of the slices buttered side down and spread an even layer of mustard over the bread and cover with half the cheese slices, folding them back in toward the middle if they extend past the edges of the bread.
  4. Scatter the marinated onions on top and place the remaining cheese slices over the onions. 
  5. Put the top slices of bread over the cheese, buttered side up.
  6. Grill the sandwiches in a moderately hot skillet or panini grill for 4-5 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted. If working in a skillet, turn sandwiches over halfway through grilling and keep the temperature light to ensure the cheese is thoroughly melted. If using a panini grill, apply a small amount of pressure to set grill marks.
  7. Cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal and serve.

Jon Davis is the vice president of concept development at La Brea Bakery and has been with the company since it began. He was hired 20 years ago as founder Nancy Silverton’s pastry chef at Campanile. Since then, Davis has been instrumental in helping La Brea Bakery become the nationally recognized brand that it is today. He has a wealth of expert baking, cooking and R&D experience, and plays an important role in La Brea Bakery’s product and culinary development. Located at the bakery in Van Nuys, chef Davis is on call to provide signature bread and menu development support.