Here it is, my contribution to National Grilled Cheese Month!
The idea for this recipe was not an original one of mine, but I was definitely intrigued when my “mom” came back from Portland, Oregon telling tales of this delicious sandwich she had! Of course, if you know me, you know that once I get an idea in my head, it’s pretty well stuck there until I do something about it!!
Apparently, the sandwich that mom had had used canned pears, which might be good, but I just had to go with someone different and unique! I found this recipe for roasted pears, but I didn’t necessarily want those same flavors in my sandwich so changed it a little bit. When I started thinking about this sandwich and went about concocting it in my head, I really was quite methodical about the entire process… What flavor did I want the turkey to have? Was I going to use canned pears, like the original? What kind of cheese would taste best? What about the bread? Should I only have pears and turkey in it? I suppose I could have asked more questions about the original sandwich… But what’s the fun in that?!
While at the grocery store, I happened to see one of my favorite lunchmeats in the deli case and I knew that that’s what I wanted. It’s a honey maple turkey breast, so it’s slightly sweet, but it’s very good. (If you can’t find honey maple turkey, plain honey roasted turkey will be just fine.) Especially with some honey mustard! So, that was added to the sandwich in my head… Okay, so I had the meat and the mustard figured out, but then my mind was wondering what cheese would be best. I didn’t want anything too strong, because I didn’t want it to overpower the slightly sweet flavor of the turkey and the taste of the pear, so my choices were limited to just a few. And then it came to me… One of my favorite cheeses… Muenster!! And it melts extremely well, so that was a bonus! With all of the sweet flavors going on in the sandwich, I thought it might be a good idea to add something to help balance it out, and that’s where the spinach and cranberry compote come in.
So, I had most of my sandwich figured out, but was still contemplating what kind of bread to use and how I wanted to approach the pear aspect of it… I ended up deciding to use my favorite potato bread, because I use it in a few of my other sandwiches and it’s nice and mild, so it doesn’t overpower any of the other flavors going on. While I do generally eat whole wheat bread, I find that the flavor becomes stronger when toasted and it masks some of the less prominent flavors with it. When it came to the pears, I kept tossing around the idea in my head that it might be really tasty to roast them in the oven to help bring out more of the pear’s natural sweetness and flavor. Once I had that stuck in my head, I knew that’s what I was going to do… But, I didn’t just want a plain old roasted pear either! So, I typed “Roasted Pears” into Google to see what other people might have to say about the subject. Most of what I found wasn’t even close to what I wanted, but then I found the one I decided to use as a basic idea. I went from there, and the rest is history! ;-)
1 ripe but firm Bartlett pear
1 Tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. cinnamon
4 slices potato bread, recommended Arnold
Butter or margarine
Honey mustard, recommended Grey Poupon
Spicy Cranberry Compote
6 oz. shaved honey maple turkey breast
4 slices Muenster cheese
Couple handfuls fresh baby spinach
To make the roasted pears: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix the honey and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Prepare the pear by cutting it in half lengthwise and scooping out the core and seeds. Place the halved pear halves, cut side down, on a work surface. Starting ½ inch from the stem and leaving the pear half intact at the stem end, cut each lengthwise into scant ⅓- to ½-inch-wide slices. Press the pear gently to fan it into slices; drizzle the pears with the honey and cinnamon mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the pears are tender, about 15 minutes. Let stand on baking sheet at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours. Remove the stems from each pear and separate each pear half into equal parts so that they will fit well on the sandwiches.
For the sandwiches: Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter or margarine; spread the other side of two slices with a small amount of honey mustard and the other two with the spicy cranberry compote. In order to create a uniform sandwich that holds together well, layer half of the meat on two of the honey mustard sides of the bread, followed by 1 slice of cheese. Arrange some of the spinach on top of the cheese slices, followed by all of the pears divided between the two, then some more spinach, the last of the cheese, and the remaining turkey; top with the other slices of bread, spicy cranberry compote side in. Place the sandwiches, buttered sides out, in a panini press or George Foreman and grill until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Makes 2 sandwiches