Wednesday, June 20, 2012

BBQ Chicken Apple Melts

In the last few years sandwich-making has really become an art. Moms will always make PB&J and a good neighborhood deli is always a thing of beauty, but now even the finest of ingredients will find their way into the humble sandwich. That being said, even if you're not making your own aiolis or nestling foie gras between slices of local artisan bread, the sandwich is still a great way to get creative when you're short on time to make a meal, exactly how this sandwich came to me. I've always got a to-do list a mile long, but I'm simply can't tackle it with just proper sustenance. I only had a notion of making some sort of grilled chicken sandwich for dinner, but a quick look in my fridge revealed a few common ingredients that provided the makings for this fantastic melt. I'm the first to say that this isn't revolutionary by any means, but who can say no to a combination of moist chicken, sweet onions and apples, and tangy barbecue sauce under a blanket of melted cheese? Not only is it wonderfully savory and satisfying, but it's a great way to sneak in a few fruits and vegetables for those who might otherwise be a bit produce-averse. Although perfectly delicious as is, turkey would happily substitute for chicken, pears for apples, honey mustard for barbecue sauce, with almost any cheese oozing over the top. A basic recipe with a lot of possibilities, I hope this recipe not only fills you up, but starts you on a path of culinary creativity.

BBQ Chicken Apple Melts
serves 2

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
Canola oil cooking spray
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter or canola oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 small Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup barbeque sauce, plus additional for serving
4 slices whole wheat bread
2 ounces smoked or sharp cheddar cheese

1. Preheat a pan over medium heat. Spray chicken breast lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to rest for at least five minutes. Shred or thinly slice chicken.

2. Meanwhile, preheat a frying pan over medium heat. Add butter or oil and once hot, add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently for until onions are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add apples and continue cooking over medium heat until onions and apples are soft, but not mushy, about 10 to 15 minutes total. Remove from heat.

3. Preheat a panini press (I love my Cuisinart Griddler) according to manufacturer's directions (or preheat a large skillet over medium heat). While preheating, combine chicken, apple and onion mixture, and barbecue sauce in a bowl and mix thoroughly to combine. Divide evenly between two slices of bread, topping each with half of the cheese and the second slice of bread.

4. Grill until cheese is melted and chicken mixture is heated through. Serve warm with additional barbecue sauce on the side for dipping, if desired.

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