Croque Monsieur

First an admission… I chose this sandwich because of the name.  There is just something fun about making something that has a fancy foreign name.  Well it’s foreign to me at least.  I had heard the name before, but wasn’t sure exactly what it was.  Upon further inspection I realized it was a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, but then it is topped with a bechamel sauce and more cheese!  I was intrigued, but slightly doubtful about putting sauce on top and it turning the sandwich mushy/soggy.  I was very pleasantly surprised however when I took my first bite and was hit by SO much cheesy, salty, creamy flavor, and was glad the sandwich not only held up to the sauce, but still had a bit of crust to it.  The sauce does soften the tops a little, but you still have your bottom crust and the sides, and as long as you make sure to get a nice crisp golden crust when you are making the sandwiches you will be good to go.

This was another one of those recipes that needed a bit of converting, and I hadn’t realized how much cheese I would be using when I put it on my menu plan.  So I would definitely say this is not “diet” food, but for those days you want to reward yourself for your efforts and indulge a little this is the thing to try!  It’s very simple to make, with the only touchy part being the bechamel sauce.  My advice is just to have your ingredients measured out and sitting next to you so you can give full attention to  your sauce the entire time and not be running around your kitchen trying to keep up.  Furthermore I made my sandwiches first and set them aside and THEN tackled the sauce so I wouldn’t get distracted.  I am a good cook, but I am not the world’s best multitasker in the kitchen lol.  I get a little frazzled at times.  Anyway, when making the bechamel you really don’t want to turn the heat up too high…. the recipe says medium heat and I went with a medium-low on mine.  Melt your butter, add the garlic until it’s just fragrant, and then when you add your flour watch is closely, and keep it moving.  You don’t want the flour to burn and it will quickly if you aren’t careful.  Then when it’s time to add the milk you want to pour slowly (like a drizzle) and whisk the entire time you are pouring to avoid lumps and then keep whisking the entire cook time so it doesn’t clump or stick/burn.  It sounds  harder than it is, but as long as you go at it with this knowledge and stay focused it will turn out perfectly creamy and thick.

My gruyere didn’t want to slice very well, so I ended up grating it all.  I then put some on both sides of the bread and sandwiched the ham in between.  When I put it on top and broiled them at the end I ended up with a lot of grease (I may have put a little too much) so I just took a paper towel and dabbed the excess grease off and put them back under for a while to start to brown the cheese slightly.  Now for the conversion…. I don’t know why but I was having a heck of a time to figuring it out, so I just bought an 8oz block of gruyere and used most of it, and eyeballed everything.  I didn’t even bother measuring the ham and just used about 5-6 slices per sandwich.  For the bread I used a nice large sourdough loaf already cut into slices from the store and used the middle (largest) slices.  Finally the recipe called for shichimi togarashi at the end (listed as optional) and I assumed it was some sort of hot sauce or spice but had no idea so I left it off, so I can’t comment on that addition.

 

Croque Monsieur

Serves : 2                

Ingredients :

  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. all purpose flour
  • 1 C. skim milk
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf ( I only now realize I forgot this entirely, but I guess it wasn’t necessary for a good result)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 4 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • 100 g. sliced gruyere (I used about 4oz. grated)
  • 100 g. thinly sliced ham of your choice (I used about 10-12 slices)
  • 1 T. melted butter
  • 1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh chives
  • Dash of shichimi togarashi (optional)

Directions :

  1. Assemble sandwiches with half the sliced gruyere (or in my case grated) and ham each and brush with melted butter (I actually used spray butter).  Heat a non-stick large skillet over medium-high heat and cook sandwiches until deep golden on both sides.  Set on a baking sheet and start your sauce.
  2. In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat (see notes above).  Add in your garlic and stir around until fragrant.  Add flour and stir to work out any clumps, watching closely so it doesn’t burn for about a minute.  Slowly pour in milk whisking the entire time to avoid clumping.  Once all the milk is in stir in nutmeg and add your bay leaf.  Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Continue whisking the entire time, and allow sauce to thicken; about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, remove bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat broiler.  Spoon sauce over tops of sandwiches and top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.  Place under broiler and allow cheese to melt and start to brown a little.  Serve with chopped chives and shichimi togarashi on top.

Recipe from sushi bytes

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