Welcome back to 'Wich of the Week, where every Wednesday I'll feature a different sandwich I've eaten or prepared at home, complete with photos and instructions on how to re-create it.

I know I just featured a vegetarian sandwich last week, but it's been cold and rainy here in SF, and this weather makes me crave soup and grilled cheese. Of course, I couldn't just bring you any old grilled cheese, so I went looking for a more gourmet version in the Roadfood Sandwiches cookbook. Since leeks are in season, I settled on this recipe for Grilled Gruyere With Braised Leeks on Multigrain Bread, from a bakery-restaurant in Los Angeles called Clementine. For how to make it, read more

I thought the leeks might be hard to bite into, making for a messy sandwich, but they actually melt in your mouth right along with the creamy cheese. Though leek and gruyere are very bold flavors, the sandwiches were a hit even with my friend who isn't very fond of leeks or stinky cheese. Overall, it was definitely a worthwhile experiment.

Grilled Gruyere With Braised Leeks on Multigrain Bread
From Roadfood Sandwiches
Makes 4 sandwiches.

2 medium leeks
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Scant 1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper

Butter for spreading
8 slices dense multigrain bread
10 ounces gruyere cheese, thinly sliced [I used about 7-8 ounces]
Dijon mustard [I used mustard with herbs de Provence]

Braise the leeks:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Trim off the root end of the leeks. Slice them lengthwise and remove any tough, dark green portions by cutting away from the root end on an angle and peeling them off. Clean the leeks thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt. Pat dry.

  3. Heat a large skillet and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, carefully place the leeks in the pan, cut side down. Cook for a few minutes, just until they are golden brown on one side.
  4. Remove the leeks and arrange them cut side up in a casserole dish. Add the water, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle the lemon zest, thyme, salt, and pepper over the top. [See top photo.] Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in the oven.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 20 minutes. The liquid will reduce and the leeks will caramelize. Let them cool. (The leeks can be braised up to 2 days ahead, covered, and refrigerated.)

To assemble the sandwiches:

  1. Thoroughly butter 1 side of each slice of bread and arrange the slices butter side down. Divide the cheese evenly among the bread slices. Cut the braised leeks diagonally into 2-inch lengths and arrange them on 4 of the cheese-topped slices of bread.

  2. On each of the other 4 slices, spread about 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard over the cheese (use more or less according to your taste and the strength of your mustard). Place the 2 slices together to make each sandwich. (The sandwiches can be assembled up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic.)
  3. Place a batch of sandwiches in a large skillet over low heat. When they are brown and crispy on one side, flip them over and cook until brown and crispy on the other side, about 10 minutes per side. [Mine took about 5 minutes per side.] Keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining sandwiches. Cut in half and serve.