Caramelizing diced pear along with the onion gives this sandwich a hint of sweetness that works well with the rich flavors of the cheese. If you don't have pears, caramelize the onion by itself and slather a thick layer of fig preserves onto the bread before you add the cheese and grill the sandwich.
Cheryl Dobbins, who leads tours or our Point Reyes cheesemaking rooms every Friday, once owned her own bakery. The Cherry Street Bakery in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so she has firm ideas about what makes a good sandwich. This one is really good. Once you try this one, it'll be a permanent addition to your grilled cheese repertoire. - Sue Conley & Peggy Smith (Co-Founders)
Makes 3 sandwiches
3 tbsp Unsalted butter
1 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup Medium-diced yellow onion
1 cup Peeled, seeded, and diced pear (preferably Comice or Asian pear)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
8 oz Medium-grated semisoft cheese (such as Wagon Wheel, Gruyère, Cheddar, or Monterey Jack–or a blend!)
4 oz Fromage Blanc
6 slices Soft bread, such as potato bread
1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
- In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp of the butter with olive oil over medium heat. When the butter bubbling, add the onion and the pear to the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the onion and pear are translucent and browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, remove the pan from the heat, and set it aside to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cheese. When the onion-pear mixture is cool, add it to the cheese. (Wait until the onion-pear mixture is barely warm; if it's mixed when hot, the cheese will melt and clump, causing it to cook unevenly.)
- Spread the cheese mixture on one side of each of three bread slices. Spread the Dijon mustard (if you like mustard; if not, leave it out) on the remaining bread slices and place mustard-side down on the cheese mixture to make sandwiches. Butter the outside of each sandwich on both sides with the remaining 2 tbsp butter.
- Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or any large pan with a heavy bottom over medium heat.
- Place a sandwich in the heated pan and cook until the bread touching the pan is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip the sandwich and continue to cook until the cheese is completely melted and the bottom of the sandwich is golden brown. Repeat for each sandwich and serve right away.