Dinner Tonight: Ham and Pear Crisp with Spiced Butter

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Is there no quicker dinner than grilled cheese? It's hard to think of one that's at least as satisfying—warm, cheesy, carbohydrate-plenty—with only one skillet to clean. To round it out into a full meal, a common addition is some kind of protein, but this recipe, adapted from Damn Good Food, a cookbook of recipes from Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis, not only adds shaved ham but also throws in slices of canned pear. It's one of the few situations where canned fruit is superior: guaranteed soft and sweet, so that it almost melts into the sandwich along with slices of Swiss and Fontina cheeses.

I probably could have come up with this recipe on my own up to that point, until I noticed its stroke of genius: the butter used to coat the bread is mixed with ground coriander, ginger, and pumpkin pie spice. As the butter foams and melts in the skillet, the spices toast, and the fragrance is marvelous. The almost Christmas-y aroma plays off the sweetness of the pear and the ham perfectly.

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. After a year in Estonia, he's now living in Chicago.

Dinner Tonight: Ham and Pear Crisp with Spiced Butter

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About This Recipe

Yield:4

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 3/4 pounds shaved cooked ham
  • 1 (15-oz) can pear halves in heavy syrup, sliced
  • 4 slices fontina cheese

Procedures

  1. 1

    Combine butter, pumpkin pie spice, coriander, ginger, and salt in medium bowl and whisk until evenly incorporated. Set aside.

  2. 2

    Arrange half of bread slices on cutting board and place one slice Swiss cheese on each. Top with ham, followed by pear slices and fontina cheese. Complete the sandwiches with second four slices of bread and press down gently to compress. Spread spiced butter on the outside of each sandwich.

  3. 3

    Place two sandwiches in heavy-bottomed 12-inch stainless steel skillet over over medium heat. Cook until first side is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Flip sandwiches using spatula and cook on second side until golden brown, about 6 minutes longer. Keep sandwiches warm while cooking remaining two sandwiches. Cut in half and serve.

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