I've had a soft spot for this comfort food all my life and love that this simple sandwich has become something so beloved by chefs and home cooks alike. When done correctly, it can be the perfect combination of flavors, textures, and nostalgia. Plus, it's the perfect dinner for a tired pregnant lady to throw together at the end of a long day!
This particular grilled cheese sandwich is-- IMHO-- the ideal combination of sweet and savory, creamy and crunchy. Sweet fig jam is the base of the sandwich, which is perfectly complemented by a few slices of salty crispy pancetta. Sweet caramelized onions add wonderful flavor and bulk to the sandwich and fresh arugula adds a nice peppery spice to the sandwich. And a grilled cheese wouldn't be complete without (duh) cheese and grated Fontina is my go to for this recipe. It has a nice sharp flavor, but is also creamy and melts nicely-- exactly what you want for a grilled cheese sandwich.
- 2 oz. pancetta slices
- 4 large slices of good quality white bread, like ciabatta, Italian, or sourdough
- 2 Tbs. butter, softened
- 3 Tbs. fig preserves
- 1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
- 1/4 cup arugula
- 1/3 cup caramelized onions *Scroll down for how to make those!
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add pancetta slices to the pan and cook until crispy, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from pan and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Reduce skillet heat to medium.
To assemble sandwiches, coat the outside of each bread slice evenly with butter. On one slice of bread (buttered side out), coat evenly with half of the fig preserves, 1/4 of the grated Fontina, half of the pancetta slices, half of the arugula, and half of the caramelized onions. Repeat with second sandwich and top each evenly with the remaining Fontina. Place the second slice of bread with the buttered side facing out on top of each completed sandwich.
Place both sandwiches carefully in the hot skillet and cover. Cook for about 4 minutes or until cheese begins to melt and the bottom side is golden brown. Gently flip the sandwich over, cover again, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden.
Remove from skillet, allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, slice in half, and serve warm.
*To make caramelized onions:
Heat 1 Tbs. butter and the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once melted, swirl in the pan and add 1 cup of thinly sliced onions (white, yellow, sweet or red-- any will work) and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onions are very soft and slightly browned, at least 15-20 minutes. Pour in a little white wine or broth (as needed) to deglaze the pan throughout the cooking process to prevent onions from getting too browned. Remove onions from heat and set aside.