Brie-and-pear toasted cheese

A top-shelf melt

Originally appeared in the August 25, 2011 edition of The Southside Times.

As far as “Fair Food” goes, this summer I had a minor set-back.  You might be familiar with the venerated Dairy Bar up at the Indiana State Fairgrounds—a pasteurized plethora of milkshakes, frozen custards, and hand-dipped ice cream.  Yet there’s another item for which fair-goers obediently fall in line: the Dairy Bar’s grilled cheese.

In the past, your standard American-on-white sandwich (traditionally delicious as it may be) was featured on a menu alongside nuanced offerings such as Colby- and gouda-on-wheat.  Yet—alas, this season—my love for the latter strata of cheese-and-wheat went unrequited.  This year, I was crestfallen to read the Dairy Bar’s menu, sans gouda.  More after the jump:So, as an antidote I’ve decided to share a top-shelf melt with you.  This brie-and-pear toasted cheese is a study in harmony.  Between the buttery crunch of the toasted bread, the creamy, soft-ripened brie is has an almost nutty pungency; to fill in the remaining flavor spaces is tartness from the pear, and sweet heat from the jalapeno jelly, and you suddenly you have a homemade creation worthy of any ritzy menu.  It’s not your ordinary toasted cheese, nor is it meant to be.

Brie-and-pear toasted cheese

Serves 1

  • 2 large slices of white bread
  • 4 ounces brie cheese, cut into thin rectangles
  • ½ Bartlett pear, sliced thin
  • As needed, jalapeno jelly
  • As needed, oil and unsalted butter

1.  Apply a thin coating of jalapeno jelly to each side of the bread (in addition to flavor, this will help the ingredients adhere).  In a medium-sized, non-stick sauté pan, heat small amount of oil over medium-high heat; add roughly 1 teaspoon of butter and allow to melt (don’t burn).  Add one slice of bread and evenly layer on cheese.  Repeat with pear slices and top with remaining slice of bread.

2.  Shift bread around pan to toast evenly before carefully using a spatula to flip the toasted cheese over.  Repeat toasting process, adding more oil or butter as needed.  When both sides have crisped to a golden brown, remove from pan and allow to rest for several minutes before cutting in half and plating (serves one hungry individual or two unselfish people).

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