One of Austin’s hottest new chefs, Erica Beneke has already made her mark on Austin’s culinary scene as Executive Chef of MAX’s Wine Dive. Erica grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York where her passion for cooking began with her family. Their kitchen was always stocked with fresh produce and home-grown products and in her home kitchen is where she began to craft her skill. After graduating from culinary school at Paul Smith’s College, Erica relocated to Austin, where she fell in love with the food scene.
In celebration of national grilled cheese week and Tillamook’s Austin Grilled Cheese Week, MAX’s Wine Dive has created a special sandwich featuring smoked duck breast, caramelized onions, fresh watercress and Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese.
For the duck:
Combine water, salt, brown sugar and molasses in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until salt has dissolved. Pour mixture over duck breast in a shallow plastic container and refrigerate overnight. The following day, set up a smoker according to manufacturer’s directions, using a fruit wood.
Remove duck from sugar mixture and pat dry with a paper towel, transfer to the smoker and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Carefully remove duck from smoker and allow it to cool before slicing thinly.
For the caramelized onions:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the olive oil, followed by the onions. Lower heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently for about 20 minutes, or until the onions are soft and golden brown.
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter one side of each piece of sourdough and place butter side down on a preheated ovenproof pan or flat grill, toast until golden brown on bottom side. For each sandwich, place a few slices of duck on one side of the bread, half of the caramelized onions on the other and two slices of cheese on both sides.
Transfer pan to the preheated oven and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from pan and place half a cup of watercress on one piece of the bread, place two sides of bread together to form a sandwich and enjoy!