Fontina and Chutney Grilled Cheese Bites
Whether you’re just hosting a cocktail party or having a sit down dinner, these instantly familiar grilled cheese bites with fig jam and prosciutto go great with beer, wine and just about any other libation.
A few years ago, my husband and I hosted a holiday party on our back patio and invited a fairly large group of friends and neighbors to wear something sparkly and join us to celebrate the season. Scott set up the tables and strung the lights while I prepared the food. I assembled fancy canapés, the required crudite platter and a seafood spread with artisan crackers. Almost as an afterthought, I made a batch of grilled cheese bites. They didn’t survive one pass around the crowd.
Why? This finger food strikes just the right balance between nostalgia and trendiness. There is probably nothing simpler or more beloved than the molten cheese and crisp griddled bread of a grilled cheese sandwich. There’s a reason Mom made these for you as a kid. They’re the food version of a hug — pure comfort.
Even when they’re dressed up a bit, you can’t escape that instant recognition and Pavlovian response. Grilled cheeses are simply mouth watering, and that’s exactly why they deserve to be on your holiday menu.
My recipe is a bit more gussied up than your standard Kraft Singles plus Wonderbread. In it, I swap out white bread for French baguette rounds and melty fontina for plastic-wrapped cheese slices. And to fully transform this childhood standard, I've added a sweet and tangy spiced mustard-fig chutney and shaved prosciutto di Parma to the mix.
The result is a crispy, oozy morsel that’s both sweet and salty, tangy and a bit spicy, and so addictively good, you’ll want to reserve some cheese, ham and chutney to make a full on sandwich later. Arrange the nibbles on a serving tray and garnish them with a few micro greens for a fresh pop and beautiful presentation.
And don't worry, these bite-sized sandwiches are just about as easy to make as the original.
Fontina and Fig Chutney Grilled Cheese Bites
Note: We like to use our own fig, mustard and apple chutney for this recipe, but you can certainly substitute any store-bought chutney you like. We particularly like Major Grey's Chutney in this sandwich.
Makes: 36 sandwiches
Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
1 thin French baguette, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter and about 18 inches long
18 paper-thin slices prosciutto di Parma, halved
5 ounces fontina cheese, finely grated
1 1/2 cups Homemade Fig, Mustard and Apple Chutney (see note)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Fresh micro greens for garnish (optional)
Using a sharp bread knife, slice the baguette into seventy-two 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on one side of the bread rounds. (This is the side that will be griddled in the pan.)
Have all of the ingredients ready to go when you start to cook the sandwiches.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Lightly grease with nonstick oil spray.
In an assembly line fashion, grill the sandwiches: Smear the dry side of one bread round with 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of chutney. Top wtih a folded piece of prosciutto and 1 tablespoon shredded cheese. Top with a second bread round so that the mayonnaise is on the outside of both sides of the sandwich.
Place in the hot skillet and cook until the cheese and chutney are melted and oozy and a golden crust has formed on the bread, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Continue to build and add sandwiches to the skillet as the sandwiches cook.
Continue in this fashion until all of sandwiches are grilled. Arrange the sandwich bites on a platter and top each with a few sprigs of micro green for garnish, if desired. Serve hot.