Pears, cheese make buttery pair

Leah Eskin, Chicago Tribune (TNS)

Brillat-Savarin and I have been getting together — a lot. Not the man, who expired 190 years ago.

But the cheese, which is immortal.

Who can resist those square shoulders, that tender soul? Who can turn down the triple-cream brie named for Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the savant who said: “The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity than the discovery of a new star.” This is the wit who declared (in French, no less): “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”

What I am, apparently, is fierce for mild.

Brillat-Savarin offers a buttery bite with a snap of salt and prickle of sour. It’s good at all hours — and even better after hours. A wedge wedged between planks of caramelized pear makes for a devastating dessert — one sure to confer happiness.

Grilled Pears

Prep: 15 minutes

Grill: 8 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

4 ounces brie (such as Brillat-Savarin or Moses Sleeper) or other triple-cream cow’s milk cheese

4 firm, ripe Bartlett pears

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

6 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 pinch salt

Temper: Cut cheese into 12 small portions. Let rest at room temperature.

Slice: Leave skin on pears. Slice each the long way into 1/3-inch-wide planks. Use a paring knife or apple corer to punch out any seeds. (Each slice will look something like a guitar: pear profile with a hole in the belly.) Set pears on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Melt: In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until thick and foamy, about 4 minutes. Keep this caramel sauce warm over low heat.

Paint: Brush each pear plank lightly on both sides with sauce.

Grill: Spark a medium-hot fire. Clean and oil grates. (Or use a ridged griddle pan set over medium heat.) Grill pears, turning once or twice, until golden brown and nicely crisscrossed with grill marks, about 8 minutes.

Serve: On each of 4 plates fan out 4 pear planks separated by 3 cheese wedges. Warm pears will melt the cheese. Drizzle each with about 1 tablespoon of the remaining sauce. Enjoy.