"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Croque Monsieurs

In December, I blogged about making French onion soup.  I was worried that soup might not be enough for dinner, so I made croque monsieurs to go along with the soup.  Croque monsieurs are French sandwiches that can be found at nearly every French cafe (they are served in Birmingham at Chez Fonfon).  They are similar to Monte Cristos that I've posted about before.  I remember having my first croque monsieur in my high school French class.  There are many variations of the croque monsieur, most notably the croque madame (a croque monsieur with a fried or poached egg on top).  They can be really simple but can also be "done up" a little fancier, like this recipe topped with a mornay sauce that comes from Ina Garten. 

Croque Monsieur

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

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