My kids like Gorgonzola. I can hardly believe my luck, so I'm collecting a number of recipes using this wonderful stuff that Laura pronounces "stinky, but good." Inspired by Oswego Tea's version the other day, and the Williams-Sonoma original pear-and-Brie croque-monsieur, we made these French grilled cheese sandwiches this evening.
"What's this?" Laura asked when she saw the wedge of cheese on the cutting board. "Gorgonzola," I said, and she actually danced with delight. "I love Gorgonzola!" But in one of those twists of fate familiar to anyone who cooks for children, the eating was not so enthusiastic. She took a few bites at the table, set it down, and said very tactfully, "Mom, I don't think I like Gorgonzola in a sandwich." I was amused that she was so careful to qualify her statement -- the other day, when I'd made Pea Soup's delicious pea soup (as one does!), I was quizzing Laura about why she didn't really like it, and she was a bit taken aback at my persistence. "Well," I said, "I need to know why you don't like something, what about it you don't like, so that I have a better idea of the kinds of things to make for you." She obviously thought about this for a while, as her answer about the croque-monsieur was pretty helpful, coming from a five-year-old! (As for Julia, she deconstructed her sandwich in the usual way, unfolding it and scooping out the contents and eating them with her finger, one at a time, fairly complacently.)
Use fairly thin slices of bread, or the cheese won't have time to melt, and that's half the fun, at least. If you can, assemble the sandwiches with the pears still hot from the pan, as this will help to melt the cheese. I liked it with noticeably more pear than Gorgonzola, so that the cheese doesn't overpower the fruit but balances nicely -- the tangy-salty/sweet flavor combination as well as the gooey/al-dente texture one. Yum!
Pear and Gorgonzola Croque-Monsieur
about 4 tablespoons butter, softened (divided use)
2 Bosc or d'Anjou pears, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
8 slices good white bread
about 4 oz. Gorgonzola
In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt about 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the pear slices and sauté, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden and just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Butter one side of each slice of bread. Spread the Gorgonzola on the unbuttered side of 4 bread slices, then top with equal amounts of the pear slices and a piece of bread, buttered side out.
Cook the sandwiches over medium heat until they are golden and crisp and the cheese is melted. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and cut in half, if desired, and serve immediately.
Makes 4 sandwiches. Active work time, about 10 minutes.