Daily Archives: 15 April 2016
I’m so excited to further my exploration of French cooking with my friends from Cook the Book Fridays. This week, I tried the fried ham and cheese sandwich known as Croque Monsieur and the variation topped with a sunny-side up egg known as Croque Madame. The version I tried was from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.
I am a huge fan of grilled or pressed sandwiches of any kind. There are a couple of things that make a Croque Monsieur different than other combinations I’ve tried before. To start, the bread is spread, not with the usual condiments of mayonnaise or mustard, but with a béchamel sauce. The sauce is simple to make. Milk is simmered with a roux until it thickens up enough to be spreadable. Thin slices of prosciutto and Gruyere are layered onto the bread to make a sandwich. The bread is coated generously with melted butter and both sides of the sandwich are grilled in a skillet while another heavy skillet presses it down. The weight both squishes the sandwich and ensures a lovely browned crust on the underside of the bread.
Finally we get to the other step that distinguishes the Croque Monsieur. The top of the sandwich is sprinkled with grated Gruyere (who doesn’t love cheese?) and broiled until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Yum!
This isn’t really an “eat with your hands” sort of sandwich, more of a knife-and-fork sandwich, which I think is more traditionally French anyway. I remember ordering a sandwich in Paris and whilst eating it, looked around to see that I was the only one with the entire sandwich in my hands, rather than a dainty bite-sized piece of it on a fork.
I served the sandwich as recommended by David Lebovitz with a green salad with a mustardy vinaigrette. The salad helped cut the richness of the sandwich.
I liked the sandwich so much that I made it a second time, this time transforming it into a Croque Madame by placing a sunny-side egg on top. Out of lettuce, I served it instead with a beet and walnut salad which I make with a mustardy vinaigrette.
This is a new favorite but because of its decadence, something that I can’t justify enjoying every day. Howard didn’t get to try it yet, but I’ll make this for him for a weekend lunch one day soon.
Croque Monsieur was in the air this week. I was catching up on podcasts. Spilled Milk recently did a podcast about Ham & Cheese Sandwiches where Matthew and Molly (when they stayed on topic) chatted about Croque Monsieur. I also came across a recipe in an old magazine where they made their sandwiches a little differently. They spread the bread with mustard, then after grilling, spread the béchamel on the outside of the sandwich as glue for the grated cheese topping. That sounds like an intriguing variation. I still have ham, cheese, bread, and béchamel , so I might try making it that way for lunch today.
To check out my friend’s Croque Monsieurs (and maybe Croque Madames), check out their links here. You can find the recipe on page 137 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. (Note: you can currently — and probably only for a limited time — buy the Kindle version of this book for only $1.99!)