Panini with Two Cheeses, Red Onion Jam, Roasted Fennel and Bacon
Main Course, Sandwich
8 slices good quality sourdough bread
4 oz. chevre
8 oz. Teleme cheese (or Monterey Jack or Fontina), cut into 1/4- inch slices
1 cup Red Onion Jam, (see below
3 cups fresh fennel, trimmed, quartered and sliced very thin
Salt and pepper
12 slices Bacon, cooked until completely crispy
2 cups fresh greens (baby spinach, or arugula), optional
STEP 1:Make Red Onion Jam, see below
STEP 2:Roast the fennel: Preheat your oven to 450 °F. Toss the fennel slices with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Spread the fennel out over a sheet pan covered with foil. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Roast the fennel slices until they are nicely browned and softened, turning the slices over halfway through the roasting process. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
STEP 3:Put Panini together: Place the sliced bread in four stacks of two slices on a sheet pan covered with foil. Brush the outside of the top slices with olive oil. Turn the stacks of bread over and brush the outside of the bottom slice with olive oil (this step makes the paninis really crunchy once grilled).
STEP 4:Now open the slices like books, so that the sides brushed with olive oil are on the bottom, plain inner sides up. Spread one piece of bread in each of the four sandwiches with ¼ of the chevre. Next, using a fork, carefully distribute some of the red onion jam over the pieces of bread covered with chevre. Now place a few slices of the roasted fennel over the red onion jam in each of the sandwiches. Top the fennel with 3 slices of bacon per sandwich.
STEP 5:Heat your panini grill to medium heat. Cover the bacon in each sandwich with the sliced Teleme cheese, distributing evenly amongst the four sandwiches. Take the second piece of bread for each sandwich and cover the filling ingredients, olive oil side up. Place two sandwiches (or all 4 if your grill is large enough) onto the panini grill. Close the grill and press gently. Cook the sandwiches until the cheeses inside are completely melted and the bread has nice, distinct grill marks. Remove sandwiches to a cutting board. If using the fresh greens, lift the top piece of bread from each sandwich and place a half cup of greens inside, then cover them with the top of the sandwich. Cut the sandwiches in half, on the diagonal and serve immediately.
STEP 6:Red Onion Jam: 2 tbsp. olive oil 1 tbsp. butter 2 medium red onions, peeled, halved and cut into fine julienne 2 tsp. salt 3 tbsp. sugar 1 ½ cups dry red wine ¼ cup balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped 2 tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
STEP 7:Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and the salt and begin stirring and cooking. Continue cooking the onions until they soften, are translucent and begin to brown. This can take 15-20 minutes or so. Once the onions are lightly browned, reduce heat to low and add the sugar, wine, and vinegar. Stir and cook the onions over low heat until they have thickened and most of the liquid has cooked away. The onions will deepen in color and be very dark. Once the onions are no longer runny take them off the heat and set them aside to cool to room temperature. Add the fresh herbs, more salt if desired, and the black pepper to taste. This recipe makes approximately 2 cups of Red Onion Jam. Extra red onion jam keeps well in the refrigerator or it can be frozen for later use.