Garçon, je voudrais le croque monsieur, s’il vous plait. That’s me imagining myself sitting in a little café in Paris ordering one of the best damn sandwiches I’ve ever tasted. I mean, my little kitchen in Connecticut wasn’t a bad place to eat one of these sandwiches, but wouldn’t Paris just be the best?! But as I sit here thinking back to my first time in Paris, now almost 20 years to the day, I can’t help but long to go back. What can I say? It’s a tough city to forget about!
It’s always a pleasure to peruse through Barefoot in Paris so when Kathy of All Food Considered chose these Croque Monsieur for her April recipe choice, I couldn’t be happier. I sometimes feel like Barefoot in Paris is one of the more neglected cookbooks my BBers choose their recipes from simply because it’s all about French food. But as Ina states over and over, “What I love is simple country French food…” And she’s right. Most of her recipes are down-home, simple to prepare French dishes that don’t require crazy ingredients or even a lot of time. Take the Croque Monsieur: butter, milk, flour, bread, cheese, ham, and mustard; 25 minutes from start to finish. I think it took us about 15. Really, does it get any easier than that for dinner??
I’d been looking forward to the Croque Monsieur all month and I even made fresh bread for the occasion! And I certainly wasn’t let down. The sandwiches were hands-down the best ones I’ve had in AGES. It’s almost indescrible how good they were. The gruyere, being one of my favorite cheeses, was just something that could not be substituted. It was salty and tangy and was the perfect complement to the black forest ham that we used in place of the Virginia ham. The cheese sauce browned up perfectly in the oven and soaked into the top slice of bread thereby enhancing the flavor of the sandwich instead of running off the side and getting lost on the baking sheet. I opted not to cut off the ends of the bread because I wasn’t about to waste perfectly good bread, even if it was in the name of a fantastic sandwich. Who cares if you have to eat a sandwich with a knife and fork if it’s going to be this good?
So all in all, Kyle and I both fell in love with the Croque Monsieur and I think I might be one step closer to getting him to Paris. Many thanks again to Karen for choosing such an awesome recipe!! Make sure you head over to the blog to see who else was dreaming of Paris while eating their Croque Monsieur!!
Note: We halved the recipe to make four sandwiches but doubled the ham. 1 ounce per sandwich just wasn’t enough!!
- 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 (We used half Dijon, half whole grain and only very lightly spread it onto the bread)
- 8 ounces baked Virginia or black forest 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.