Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese - anneliesz

How do you say I love you? It comes out of my mouth in the language of beer and cheese. Cracking open an IPA for the one that I love even if my brew is less hoppy and scoring the best Vermont has to offer when it comes to cheddar (he likes it extra sharp) might be the love language that can’t really be bought. I tasted a delightfully bold cheddar from Cabot Creamery at IFBC and it set a plan in motion. Some people give expensive gifts, trips, watches, or other finery. I give grilled cheese.

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese - anneliesz

A few years ago, I stumbled upon the idea because, let’s be frank, cheese has always played an important role in our relationship. So, I set out to make Dark Rye Grilled Cheese Sandwiches all rubbed down in garlic and as you might imagine, it was a good idea. I picked up a block of the Cabot cheese because I knew if I liked it someone else in my immediate proximity would love it. 

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese - anneliesz

But, this, friends, is no ordinary grilled cheese I concocted for my 2017 ILY. In fact, at just this moment, I’m going to make a bold statement inspired by the cheese to tell you it’s the best one I’ve ever eaten. When I presented the sandwich as a gift wrapped in crispy outsides concealing the symphony of flavors inside, the response to my I love you was one finger raised, requesting silence as he took a second bite. Not a bad reply especially when accompanied by a bear hug.

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese - anneliesz

The inspiration for this year’s grilled cheese came from a lunch date we took years ago at a restaurant in San Francisco named Arlequin. We finished our sandwiches in the courtyard out back and they created taste memories. That twist of salty and sweet kind of made the sandwich amazing… until now. I started thinking more about the pears and in my excitement to start cooking with them they practically whispered in my ear what came next. Rosemary. A touch of maple. All sauteed in those priceless bacon drippings. So, make it for someone you deeply care about. Once a year. Call it an I love you in griddled challah bread and cheddar form.

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese - anneliesz

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese

I love a good cooking hack. This sandwich can totally be prepped and grilled in advance of eating it. Reheat it at 280F for 8 minutes. Chances are kind of amazingly high that these maple pears sauteed in the bacon fat would be the stuff of legend as a topping for autumn pancakes. You’re welcome. Just let me know how they tasted and what else you put on them!

Makes 2 sandwiches

4 strips bacon

1 Bosc pear, peeled and thinly sliced

½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon maple syrup

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces white cheddar cheese (cut into 6 slices)

4 1/2-inch slices challah bread

Cook the bacon in a skillet. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan. Reserve that extra bacon fat. Saute the pear slices with the rosemary, maple syrup, and salt over medium low heat for about 5 minutes or until the pears take on a bit of color and soften slightly. Remove the skillet from the burner, carefully swiping a paper towel through to clean it. Brush the top and bottom of the two bread slices with some of the reserved bacon drippings. Build the sandwich, tiling three slices of cheddar on both of the unbrushed sides of the slices of bread. Tile the bacon on one side. Tile the pears on the other side. Carefully close the sandwich. Set the skillet over medium low heat. Grill the sandwich for 3 minutes on each side or until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melty. Press down on top with your fingers as you steady a spatula underneath, carefully flipping the sandwich and grilling the other side. Prep the other sandwich while the first one is grilling and repeat the cooking instructions.


Dark Rye Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Rubbed Garlic


For most people, October conjures up smiling jack o’lanterns with their toothsome grins or perhaps the month that a brisk breeze begins to blow summer away once and for all. For me, for my husband, October brings an anniversary and the play-offs. It’s important to note that the year we married, the Giants clinched the World Series title. I was invested in them going all the way, as we had just committed to happily ever after. I even doctored and dedicated a cookie recipe to celebrate them.


Fond memories of the honeymoon include the innocuous visits to a dive bar in the town we were visiting, licking the suds of a Sam Adams’ Oktoberfest from the lips of our glasses as we bellowed at the TV screen behind the bar. It felt good to jeer, to holler whoops and exchange high fives when our team scored and rounded the bases. If marriage isn’t an experiment in teamwork, I don’t know what is.


Better together. Some things that are already good are far better together.

Before Beck and I knew each other and I only had hints to who he might be, really, there was a self-styled description of a sandwich with turkey and ham. Being a natural ham myself I mused that my sandwich would also have a smear of fig jam, both to complement the saltiness of the ham and because of my need to sneak in figs whenever I find occasion. This icebreaker had served its purpose.

So, it’s only fitting to celebrate our anniversary this year with a sandwich.

The sandwich of note sizzles garlic into oil, scenting it with a slightly pungent flavor and aroma that sears the dark rye bread and begins melting the sharp cheddar inside. Better together, eh? My ulterior motive here involves that second October certainty, letting the San Francisco Giants colors work their magic in a sandwich that does its best to cheer on the home team, bedecked in orange and black. And we listen raptly to Johnny Miller call the plays- we wait to see our team, victors.Dark-Rye-Grilled-Cheese-Sandwiches-with-Rubbed-Garlic


DARK RYE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES WITH RUBBED GARLIC Making a good grilled cheese sandwich, like marriage is not a perfect science, but there are several elements you expect to find. For a sandwich, you want to rub the outside bread with butter or oil so it can crisp up. You want enough cheese so the sandwich doesn’t seem stingy and you want to deck it out with proper bedfellows. Rye and sharp cheddar take grilled cheese to a new level with the garlic-infused oil. Not sure what to do with the browned garlic? Mince and add to vegetables for easy seasoning.

 YIELD: 2 sandwiches

  • 4 slices of dark rye or pumpernickel bread
  • 4 ounces of good sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 + 1 teaspoon of safflower oil
  1. Smash garlic cloves with the butt of a knife. Peel off and discard papery skin. Pour 1 teaspoon of oil in a small pan and over medium heat, sauté the garlic, letting it scent the oil. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon from the oil, once it begins to brown.
  2. Assemble 2 ounces of cheese slices on one side of the bread.  Close the sandwich with the other slice of bread.
  3. Once the garlic has been removed and the sandwich is ready to go, place it in the oil and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Flip the sandwich to the other side and let cook for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melty and begins oozing out of the side. Carefully sidle the sandwich onto a plate.
  4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 for the second grilled cheese.