Pancetta, Fontina & Caramelized Shallots Panini

by on December 20, 2008

Pancetta, Fontina & Caramelized Shallots Panini

If I tell you that today’s Pancetta, Fontina & Caramelized Shallots Panini recipe was inspired by Rachael Ray, I imagine some of you will perk up a little while others will scroll quickly to the next item in your RSS reader. She’s kind of got that polarizing effect on folks.  Myself, I’m a Rach fan. No, I don’t love every 30-minute meal (still shaking my head over the concept of bread gnocchi) and some of the cutesy catchphrases can grate at times (notice that I’ve tried my hardest never to use the word “sammie” on this blog!). But I gotta respect her for the honest, upbeat, creative and successful person that she is.  She works hard and she’s got a whole lot to show for it.  So, yeah, I’m a fan.

Rachael RayA few weeks ago during the cooking segment on her talk show Rachael grilled Fontina and sage panini to pair with her Beef and Barley Stoup (again with the words!).  I’ve been thinking about that savory Fontina and sage combo for weeks.  And while I don’t do “stoup” I’ve really been loving butternut squash soup this season.  So when I finally grilled my own version of Fontina and sage panini yesterday to go with butternut squash soup I took a flavor cue from Andrea at Andrea’s Recipes and added in some crispy pancetta and sweet caramelized shallots.  Deluxe grilled cheese for sure!

Pancetta, Fontina & Caramelized Shallots Panini

INGREDIENTS:

Shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
Olive oil
Pancetta, thinly sliced
French baguette, halved lengthwise
Fresh sage, coarsely chopped
Fontina cheese, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat (375 degrees).

Toss shallots with olive oil to coat and place cut-side down onto the panini grill. Close the lid and grill for 6-7 minutes until caramelized. Leave the residual shallot-infused oil on the grates – it will add great flavor once you grill the sandwich. Alternatively, you could roast the shallots on a rimmed baking sheet in an oven or toaster oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the slices of pancetta – either in a toaster oven broiler pan at 375 degrees for about 5 minutes or in a skillet over medium-high heat until the fat renders and the pancetta is crispy.

Place 3-4 shallot halves on the bottom baguette (fan out the layers to cover the bread).  Sprinkle sage on top of the shallots.  Add pancetta and Fontina and close the sandwich.  Grill for 5-6 minutes until the cheese melts.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 HoneyB December 21, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Looks awesome!

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2 Culinary Cory December 21, 2008 at 6:33 pm

This sandwich looks tasty! A perfect match with soup.

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3 maris December 21, 2008 at 9:40 pm

This looks so good! I think you could caramelize ANYTHING and I’d like it! 🙂

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4 Arlene December 22, 2008 at 6:24 am

Your panini looks wonderful. You’re so right about Rachel having a polarizing effect on folks. I used to watch her show, sometimes just to see what icky thing she was making–her stoups really turn me off–but she was funny, so tolerable if I was kind of half watching. Then I caught her on an episode of Foodnetwork’s Next Star and both she and Paula Dean were so high and mighty (and Rachel was downright nasty to the perky little blonde) that I stopped watching both. I’m a 60’s chick who still believes in the boycott (I also boycotted the Olympics).

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5 grace December 22, 2008 at 7:55 am

oh rachael. sometimes she does great work, so as long as i can watch her using closed captions, i’m all set. 🙂

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6 Pam December 23, 2008 at 11:32 am

She does drive me nuts at times but I don’t dislike here. This sandwich sounds divine!

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7 Jude December 23, 2008 at 10:34 pm

Oh Rachel Ray.. Sher’s alright I guess. At least she’s no semi-homemade devil mistress.

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8 peabody December 24, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Oh this sandwich has so many things I love.

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9 Andrea December 26, 2008 at 10:35 am

Now that’s a sandwich I can sink my teeth into. Yum!

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