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Rachael's French Onion Grilled Cheese and Spring Greens Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette


For the Grilled Cheese:

  • 6 tablespoons butter

  • 3 medium-large onions, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced

  • 1 large bay leaf

  • Salt and finely ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

  • ¼ cup sherry or ½ cup white wine

  • ½ cup beef consommé or beef stock

  • 8 slices good-quality white or French bread cut on bias, or light wheat bread or sourdough

  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard

  • 1/3 cup crème fraiche

  • 1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme

  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese, coarsely shredded or thinly sliced

For the Salad:

  • 1 shallot, minced or grated

  • Salt

  • ½ lemon

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • Pepper

  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon (a small handful), chopped

  • 2 Gem Romaine or Bibb lettuce

  • 1 bundle upland cress, arugula or small leaf spinach

  • ½ cup thinly sliced cornichons or small pickles

  • 2 radishes, very thinly sliced


For the grilled cheese, in a skillet over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter. When it foams, add onions, bay, salt, pepper and white pepper. Soften and caramelize 30 minutes, then add sherry or white wine and evaporate. Add stock and keep warm over low heat, allowing all but a few tablespoons of stock to absorb.

Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Use remaining butter to lightly coat one side of all the bread. Combine Dijon with crème fraiche, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, parsley, and thyme. Divide a layer of sauce among half the bread, buttered side out, then top with some cheese, onions, more cheese and then the bread, buttered side up. Griddle sandwiches until deeply golden and cheese is melted.

For the salad, place shallots in a bowl and season with salt, add lemon juice and vinegar, and let stand a few minutes. Add Dijon and honey, then whisk in EVOO, adjust seasoning to taste and combine with tarragon. Add greens, cornichons and radishes, and toss and serve.