Apple, Bacon, Caramelized Red Onion Sandwiches with Arugula-Thyme Spread

October  2, 2015
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Y'all, sometimes I just want a really, really good sandwich, one that rises above the standard turkey or tuna. I want every element to be flavorful and well-considered, and I definitely want the sum to be more than the parts. If juices run down my hands and arms, that's great. If I use three napkins before finishing the sandwich, that's great too.

A sandwich, almost more than any other food compilation, wants regular juxtapositions like salty and sweet, soft and firm.

This is my chilly rainy-day sandwich: It comforts, fills, and often, I eat two.

You can easily double or triple this recipe because you will have leftover caramelized onions (which are so good in so many ways). —em-i-lis

Test Kitchen Notes

A perfect sandwich for this time of year. It has a playful interplay of flavors and textures, and I found it was particularly smart to pair thinly sliced apple with a smoky or sharp cheese (I used Cheddar). The Dijon mustard is a very strong flavor—use it sparingly so as to let the other flavors shine through. —mitschlag

  • Makes 2 sandwiches
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into half-moon slivers
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
  • 4 slices bacon; I like thick-cut
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced very thinly; a mandoline is perfect for this
  • 2 thick slices applewood-smoked mozzarella or sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 handful arugula
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt
In This Recipe
  1. In a 10- or 12-inch skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the slivered onions and crushed red pepper and stir to combine everything well. Let the onions cook for 10 minutes, stirring only occasionally. When they're soft and becoming translucent, add the balsamic vinegar. Cook another 5 to 10 minutes. You want the onions to be very soft and flavorful, and for some to have started to crisp slightly.
  2. In the meantime, fry your bacon and then set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. In a food processor, blitz together the mayo, arugula, and thyme. Season with salt to taste. If you feel you want it a bit looser, add some of your bacon drippings. Yum.
  4. Toast the bread. Spread two slices with a thin layer of Dijon mustard and the other two slices with the arugula-thyme mayo. Add one slice of cheese, 6 to 8 slivers of apple, two slices of bacon, and a generous spoon of caramelized onions to each sandwich. Close them up and dig in!
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