A nummy brie and pear grilled cheese sandwich

Caroline grilling up lunch during April's Empire retreat.
A cold February morning wandering around Montreal led me to a cafe full of books and delicious-smelling coffee. It was a welcome respite from the Quebec winter wind, so I settled in and grabbed a menu. My eyes wandered over the typical cafe fare until they landed on what is now my favourite sandwich ever: the brie/honey/pear grilled cheese.

Here's the recipe for the sandwich that had me oohing and aahing aloud that day, and wowed the Offbeat Empire at the Offbeat Retreat.

Ingredients:

  • one Anjou pear, firm so as not to be too juicy, sliced
  • brie cheese, sliced
  • honey
  • bread, sliced thinly (get some nice fresh stuff from the bakery section — I recommend a whole-grain that's not too overpowering but that offers a contrast to the mild brie)
  • butter or mayo (I recommend mayo, and not Miracle Whip)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your skillet or griddle to medium-low
  2. Slather the bread with mayo on one side
  3. Lay it on the preheated skillet mayo-side down and arrange the brie on top being careful that it won't overflow
  4. Drizzle honey over it (not too much, just enough to get a taste)
  5. Cover the honey and cheese with pear slices
  6. Top with the other slice of bread and watch carefully for it to not burn
  7. When one side is done, flip it over and press it down to secure all the goodness inside
  8. The goal is not to have the cheese overly gooey because brie gets very runny when warm
  9. Remove from heat when bread is golden brown and cheese is melted to the bread and pears
  10. EATGASM

Variations:
This sandwich relies on a few things: crisp tangy fruit, sweet honey, strong mild gooey cheese, and whole-grain bread. Experiment!

  • Instead of pear, use Granny Smith apples and a pinch more honey
  • Try different breads, but avoid sourdough or white because they're too bland with brie
  • You can use camembert instead of brie if it's what you have, but the taste will be stronger and you may need more fruit to balance it out
Empire staffers say NOM!
  1. Ah, so you know the mayo-instead-of-butter-for-grilled-cheese secret as well! It really does work better.

    Also pear + brie + honey = YES. Blue cheese works here as well, as would apple/cheddar.

    Sharp provolone + orange marmalade + rosemary is an under-appreciated gem, as well ;)

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    • I'm so glad you commented here. I was confused as to whether the mayo side was supposed to be on the griddle or inside with the cheese. I never made a grilled cheese with anything besides butter or margarine on the skillet-facing side of the bread. I'm a little frightened but greatly intrigued.

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      • Yep, you can basically substitute the butter for any type of fat. Cat and I had a conversation about even using bacon grease but… that's not for me :)

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  2. Oh YUM! This sounds like just the thing I need for dinner tonight.

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  3. This sounds delicious!! But I LOVE brie. I could truly make myself sick on it. I can't wait to try this!

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  4. Oh! I make a variation on this too:
    -pear
    -bacon (cook it first)
    -jam (the original recipe says currant or fig jam, but I use apricot preserves)
    -cheddar cheese (you can do Gruyere instead if you have it)
    -whatever kind of bread

    MMMMM.

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    • pear/bacon/apricot/cheddar? wow wow wow, I'm intrigued! must try!

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    • I'm off to the store. I need to try this ASAP. It's 10am over here… would that make a good mid-morning snack? No? What if I'm pregnant? Is that a good enough excuse?

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  5. I'd never heard the mayo on grilled cheese before, but now I have to try it. MUCH easier to spread!

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    • I was converted on that aspect alone!!

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  6. All of these recipe substitutions sound amazing. Offbeat Home Grilled Cheese Cookbook.

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  7. yum! my favorite cafe makes this, except they put arugula in it too. i know arugula is a little bit yuppie, but it's worth it because it's AMAZING.

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  8. Using mayo instead of butter sounds delicious to me, but my fiance (the cook of our home) is concerned that it may be slimy. To those who have used it, is this the case? Also, is there anything to keep in mind when using this recipe that non-cooks (ME!) might need to know? (How much mayo do you use?, will it go clear or gloopy if cooked for too long/not long enough? How much brie is too much brie? Tricks for not having the sammich fall apart?) Also, what is the difference between an Anjou pear and a non Anjou pear, and does the type of pear matter?

    I apologize if these may seem like silly questions, but I'm interested in trying this and am in the "people who do not know how to slice an apple" category of cooks.

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    • The best part about this recipe is it's very cook-friendly and open to many different interpretations.

      Regarding the mayo being slimy: Not at all. I actually couldn't even tell it wasn't butter. Slime is not a factor whatsoever! It reacts the same way as butter (maybe cooks a bit faster?) so just pretend it's butter as soon as it's on haha. Alternatively just use butter!

      Anjou is labeled at your grocery store and like I said in the recipe it needs to be a firm pear that isn't too juicy. Anjou is good at this but if you have a pear that fits the bill, go wild.

      Don't worry about measurements. Spread the mayo just like you would butter and cut the cheese just like cheddar cheese thickness for regular grilled cheese sammies.

      Another great thing about grilled cheese is that you make one sandwich, taste it, and then adjust for the next. No big batches!

      Hope that helped :)

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      • SOOO HELPFUL! I think a big thing for me that I don't only have no cooking ability, but also a bit of a fear of cooking/ the kitchen.

        I do love the idea of not having to have a big batch of less than nommy food….. okay, decided…. Fancy grilled cheese for Debbies today.

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  9. OMNOMNOMNOMNOM.

    This reminds me of my mom's Peach (or Pear or Nectarine) and Brie (or bleu, or d'affinois) Quesdillas with Honey-Lime Dipping sauce. Oh, yeah.

    (Cooking Light recipe, I think…)

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  10. Ooh this is one of my favorites! I had it at a Julius Meinl years ago and now make it at home. The variation from there is they used stone-ground mustard – I think all the other ingredients, too – and depending on how sweet/ripe your fruit is, you can vary the amount of honey to balance the mustard and other toppings.

    This reminds me of another fave sandwich we've ripped off from a Belgian beer bar in Chicago (Hopleaf): the CB&J. Cashew butter, fig jam and Morbier cheese, fried up like a grilled cheese. Just google this sandwich and witness the pages of hits worshiping it. Life-changing.

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    • Oh wow that sounds amazing! Grilled sandwiches are officially the best thing ever.

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  11. Thank you Montreal for your inspired deliciousness. I lived there for a couple of years, and a trip to the farmer's market (or Marche Jean-Talon is enough to get anyone's creative juices flowing.

    Another variation I love is a apples and blue cheese. Quite a bit stronger than brie, but fantastic. Because you don't use quite as much of the cheese, a little applesauce spread on the inside of the bread keeps things juicy.

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  12. It sounds interesting, but I'm deathly allergic to pears (and blue cheese).

    So, I'm planning on trying this variation fro lunch today: granny smith apple/ sharp cheddar cheese/ mayo/ 9 grain bread. Hopefully it turns out yummy. ^_~

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