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Grilled Fontina Sandwiches with Prosciutto and Pear

Grilled Fontina Sandwiches with Prosciutto and Pear
This is a sophisticated version of the classic grilled cheese sandwich. Italian fontina is a creamy, mild cheese with fine melting qualities. A Swiss-type cheese, such as Gruyère or Emmentaler, would also be good.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 12 slices firm white bread, brioche or challah
  • 3/4 to 1 lb. fontina cheese, sliced
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 1 ripe pear, such as Bartlett

Directions:

First, clarify the butter: Melt the butter in a small, heavy saucepan over very low heat, watching carefully so it does not burn. Remove from the heat and let stand briefly, then, using a spoon, skim off and discard the foam from the surface. Carefully pour off the clear yellow liquid into a bowl. Discard the milky solids left behind in the pan.

Lay 6 slices of the bread on a work surface and top evenly with the cheese, 1 slice of prosciutto and the pear slices. Top with the remaining bread.

Brush a wide sauté pan or stovetop grill pan generously with the clarified butter and warm over medium heat. When it is hot, place as many sandwiches as will fit in the pan without crowding and weight them down with a pan lid. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Adding more butter as needed, carefully flip the sandwiches, replace the lid, and cook on the other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes more. The cheese will have melted.

Remove the sandwiches from the pan and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches. Cut each sandwich in half and serve warm.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Soup for Supper, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1998).