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French Onion Soup Sandwiches


As this weekend approached I decided I needed to relax and rejuvenate after a hectic February. No chores. No responsibilities. Just reading. I had 50 pages of Claire Messud’s “The Woman Upstairs,” a brilliant portrayal of longing, loving and betrayal to finish and Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” still waiting for me.
But what’s that saying, “People make plans and God laughs” or in my case, Mother Nature.

Instead of lighting a fire and curling up in front of it with a book, we spent yesterday cleaning up the mess after a rain and wind storm hit Napa Valley and sent our side fence crashing to the ground at 3am Friday morning.

fence 3

To help ease the pain (and after pulling some weird muscle that spans from front to back I have literal pain), I’m going to treat us to French Onion Soup Sandwiches.

I love French Onion Soup, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I mostly love it for the cheesey toast floating on top. So I decided to get rid of the liquid and focus on the cheesey toast. The result: a sandwich so decadent it would be a crime not to eat it while watching the Academy Awards tonight.

I only wish I had a photo, but for all its deliciousness it isn’t much prettier than our poor fence.

fence 2

French Onion Soup Sandwiches

Enjoy with Sequoia Grove Syrah

Serves 4

1 tablespoon bacon drippings, duck fat or olive oil
2 large yellow onions, quartered and sliced thin
1/2 cup dry Sherry or white wine
1/4 cup demi-glace or concentrated beef stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 thick slices sourdough bread
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
4 ounces fontina cheese, grated

Heat the bacon drippings in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 20 minutes without stirring until the onions are dark brown and dry. Stir and cook 10 more minutes until the onions are uniformly browned. Add the wine, increase the heat to high and cook about 5 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Add the demi-glace and cook about 5 minutes until thick and syrupy. Stir in the salt and pepper. Remove from the heat; cover to keep warm.

Heat the broiler. Put the sourdough bread on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler until golden brown on one side only.

Remove from the heat, flip the bread over and spread the 4 tablespoons of butter evenly over the untoasted side of the bread. Sprinkle even amounts of the parmesan over the butter. Press into the bread.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the bread, a few slices at a time butter-side down in the skillet and cook about 3 minutes until browned. Return to the baking sheet, butter-side down. When all of the bread has been grilled, divide the fontina evenly over the slices and return to the broiler. Cook until the cheese is melted and begins to brown. Remove from the oven. Divide the onion mix into four portions and place on four of the bread slices. Top each with a second slice of bread and serve.

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