This was a close one. I almost let April pass by without a grilled cheese recipe. For those of you keeping track at home, April is national grilled cheese month and in fact there’s a grilled cheese day somewhere in the 30 days of this month. And, as we’ve established, I get a kick out of celebrating fake food-related holidays. Plus, who doesn’t love grilled cheese? Sure, it’s the second to last day of the month but at least we can say we got this one in, right?
About this sandwich: you may have noticed it’s not called mango and brie grilled cheese. That’s because I didn’t come up with it myself.
My college had a small cafe that, aside from coffee and pastries, also had a rotating menu of vegetarian lunch items that it served during the week. Some were good and some were only good if you were a vegetarian, but on the day they served mango and brie paninis the line started early and lasted until they inevitably sold out a few hours later. I ate my fair share of them, especially considering that they only were around one day a month.
What made them so amazing? Maybe the fruit and cheese combination or the fact that it was my first exposure to sweet and savory grilled cheese. Maybe it’s the caramelized onions, which are phenomenal, or the slippery mango slices, that get a little caramelized on the edges. Maybe it’s just that grilled cheese is so good. Before I had the forehead-realization that I could make these at home, it had been years since I was around for mango-and-brie-panini day. Turns out that it’s just as good at home, not to mention that there’s no line and you can have two if you want to.
If you are something of a grilled cheese purist, this might be a bit of a stretch. There’s a lot going on in this sandwich and a fair amount of it isn’t cheese. But the end result is gooey and melty and golden brown on the outside. The edges are crispy and it’s really messy when you bite in. It was worth the wait.
Mango and Brie Panini Grilled Cheese
Makes two sandwiches
1 mango, sliced
1/4 lb brie, cut into spreadable wedges or slices
1/4 cup caramelized onions – from 2 onions*
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tbs mango chutney – pick one that’s mostly smooth
Bread of your choice – white bread slices, rolls, or pieces of a bakery loaf; just pick something soft and squishy
Butter – about 2 tbs for coating the bread slices
In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and the chutney. If the cream cheese isn’t soft enough you’ll end up with some pieces of cream cheese that won’t combine which, while a little unappealing looking, is fine for the sandwiches.
Spread one side of the bread with the cream cheese mixture and top with the caramelized onions. On the other side of the bread, lay down the brie slices and press the mangos into the cheese. Sandwich the two halves together and butter the outsides of the bread.
Heat a pan over medium heat and if you have it, heat a second cast iron pan to use as a press (or use a panini maker if you have one). Place the sandwiches in the pan and fry for 3-5 minutes, until the bread is toasty and brown. Flip the sandwiches and place the second pan on top to press them down. Cook about another 5 minutes until the second side is brown and the cheese is gooey.
This is a messy sandwich but there are two ways to cut down on the gooey-ness. You can hollow out the bready inside of a roll (only on one side) to create a little pocket for the mango and cheese. Or you can use large slices of bread and leave a half-inch border around the edges so the filling to spread into as it melts. I opt for just a messy sandwich and a big napkin.
*If you do caramelize just two onions you’ll have some leftovers from the sandwiches. Not a bad thing