Recently, searching for a quintessential autumn dish to demo for my monthly cooking segment on “Mass Appeal,” a weekday show airing on our local NBC affiliate, I found a recipe for apple chutney in my cookbook, Sunday Roasts. In a heartbeat, I knew that this simple condiment would be perfect for my October cooking spot. Although it makes a delicious counterpoint to roast pork or chicken, and complements grilled kielbasa or turkey burgers well, I decided to use it to embellish my favorite grilled cheese sandwiches.
For this chutney, sweet firm apples (such as Galas) are unpeeled but cored. Then they are diced and simmered along with onions and garlic in a spiced mixture of sugar and vinegar. The resulting mélange is sweet and tart with a hint of heat from some fresh ginger and cayenne. The chutney can be prepared three days ahead, a definite bonus for busy cooks.
For my grilled cheese combos I used a round loaf of dark multigrain bread, but standard white or whole wheat sandwich slices work well too. The sweet and tart taste of this chutney partners well with salty cheese. A sharp white cheddar is particularly nice, but Gouda, Italian Fontina, and Havarti would also make fine choices.
Serve these sandwiches with a small mound of potato chips and a couple of dill pickle slices for lunch or a light supper during the cool, crisp days of this new season.
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Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Apple Chutney
This recipe yields one sandwich, but can easily be doubled, tripled, or increased more. If cooking several sandwiches, preheat oven to 250 degrees F. and have ready a rimmed baking sheet. As you cook each sandwich place it on the baking sheet, cover loosely with foil, and transfer to the oven to keep warm.
A 6-to 8-ounce piece of sharp white cheddar cheese or another good melting cheese (See cooking tip.)
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter plus more if needed
1/2 tablespoon canola oil plus more if needed
2 bread slices from a good quality peasant loaf or sandwich bread (Whole Foods whole wheat bread works well.)
2 to 3 tablespoons Apple Chutney (Recipe follows.)
1.Using a cheese slicer or sharp knife shave about 2 ounces of cheese from the piece of sharp white cheddar or using a stand grater grate 2 ounces to yield 3/4 cup. You will have some cheese left over; save for another use.
2.Heat butter and oil in a medium, heavy skillet set over medium heat. When hot, but not browning, add 2 bread slices to skillet and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until lightly toasted on the underside. Using tongs or a metal spatula, turn slices over and top each slice with half of the cheese. Add more butter and canola oil in equal amounts if needed. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of the apple chutney on one half.
3.Cook until bread slices are golden and toasted on undersides, and cheese has melted about 2 minutes. Watch carefully and lower the heat if bread is browning too quickly. With a metal spatula, lift the slice without chutney and place, cheese side down, on top of the other slice to form a sandwich.Cook 30 to 60 seconds more. Remove sandwich to a cutting board and halve. Serve warm.
Makes 1 sandwich.
Cooking tip: Seaside English cheddar available at Whole Foods is an especially flavorful cheddar to use in this sandwich. It tends to break when shaved thinly, but can be grated easily.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2023
2 medium large Gala or Honey Crisp apples, unpeeled
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons country-style Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1.To prepare the chutney, halve and core the unpeeled apples, then cut them into 1/2-inch dice.
2.In a medium, non-reactive saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté, stirring, until onions are softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.
3.Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the saucepan and the diced apples. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the apples are translucent and lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add brown sugar, mustard, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne and stir until the sugar starts to melt. Add the vinegar and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and liquids are syrupy, 10 to 12 minutes or more. Remove the pan from the heat and let the chutney cool to room temperature. (The chutney can be prepared 3 days ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using.)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Adapted from Sunday Roasts by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books 2011)