Raise your hand if you’re new to apple butter…am I the only one? I never heard of it until last year when I was preparing a recipe that called for it, but I’ve since learned that apple butter is pretty popular in some parts of the country (evidently not so much in California). Once I got past my surprise over it being a lot more like applesauce than actual butter I realized its bold, concentrated apple flavor would be a perfect panini condiment, especially in autumn.
For my Chicken Sausage, Apple Butter and Fontina Panini with Caramelized Red Onions, I matched the intense flavor of the apple butter with some equally bold smoky, nutty and sweet flavors. It’s a true sweet and savory mouthful – they were terrific. I grilled these sandwiches on ciabatta but any nice, crusty bread would be ideal.
Chicken Sausage, Apple Butter and Fontina Panini with Caramelized Red Onions
Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 55 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield: 4 panini
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 medium red onions, halved and sliced thinly
- Salt and pepper
- 4 fully-cooked chicken-apple sausage links (such as Aidell’s)
- 8 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup apple butter, either store-bought or homemade
- 1 ciabatta roll, divided into 4 sections, or 4 small ciabatta rolls
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook the onions for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and continue to cook until the onions are soft, deep burgundy in color and caramelized, another 20 minutes.
- Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat.
- Slice each chicken-apple sausage link in half lengthwise without slicing all the way through, then fold open the sausage. Place the sausages, cut side down, on the panini grill. Close the lid and grill the sausages for 4 to 5 minutes until they are heated through and grill marks appear.
- For each sandwich: Slice the ciabatta in half lengthwise to create top and bottom halves. Sprinkle cheese over the bottom half of bread and spread apple butter inside the top half. Top the cheese with the grilled sausage caramelized onions. Close the sandwich with the top half of bread, apple butter side down.
- Grill the panini until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, about 4 to 5 minutes. Cut in half and serve immediately.