So, to answer the question I'm pretty sure is in your head, I don't consider panini to be in the St. Patrick's Day food family. I wouldn't really put Gruyére there either. But I can tell you this--this sandwich is absolutely great with a good dark beer. It's a completely fabulous combination. Honestly, the two were made for each other--both a bit more sophisticated than their dive bar counterparts but just as laid back and fun. With that gastropub feel, I can assure you this sandwich deserves a place at a casual, friendly St. Patrick's get together. And your family's dinner table.
If you don't have a panini press, don't worry. You can get the same tasty results with an indoor grill pan. If you don't have a grill pan, just use a regular nonstick skillet for cooking and a heavy pot or even a foil-wrapped brick to press the sandwiches down.
Caramelized Onion, Sausage, and Gruyére Panini
adapted from Fine Cooking
2-3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 TBSP unsalted butter
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 8 c.)
1/4 c. brandy, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt and black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
3 cooked chicken sausages (preferably with garlic), cut into 1/2-in. thick slices
Dijon mustard, to taste
6 oz. Gruyére, very thinly sliced
8 slices crusty bread, 1/2-in. thick each
1. Over medium-high heat, melt 1 TBSP each oil and butter together. Add onions, 3 TBSP brandy, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until onions are deep golden-brown, about 30 minutes. Add remaining brandy, garlic, and thyme and cook 2 minutes more.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 TBSP oil (If desired. My sausage slices cooked up just fine without any oil at all.) in a separate skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage slices and cook until heated through and browned on outsides, 5-6 minutes.
3. Heat panini press or grill pan. If using a skillet, just remove sausage to separate plate or cutting board and use that skillet. Assemble sandwiches by brushing outsides of bread with remaining TBSP of oil. Spread insides of bread with desired amount of Dijon mustard. Distribute half the cheese slices over 4 slices of bread, then layer on equal amounts of onions and sausages. Top with remaining cheese slices and bread. Cook sandwiches 4-6 mintes, or until cheese begins to melt and bread is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Yields: 4 sandwiches