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Croque Monsieur (Béchamel variety)

23 Jan

(2 big or 4 small sandwiches)
Croque Monsieur is the ultimate grilled ham and cheese sandwich, one of my favourite things to have for lunch. Leave it to a Frenchman to make something as mundane as a sandwich into a gourmet dish. After you have had a properly made Croque Monsieur with a béchamel topping, like me you won’t be wanting to eat any other kind of ham and cheese sandwich again.  
 
Ingredients
  1. Bread (1 mini loaf)
  2. Emmental Cheese
    (1.25 cups grated)
  3. Sliced Ham (100g)
  4. Egg (1) 
  5. Butter
  6. Flour
  7. Milk (2/3 cup)
  8. Nutmeg
  9. Cognac

Preparation

  1. Grate a block of emmental till you get 1.25 cups of grated cheese. The block would be roughly equal in size to half a block of butter.
  2. Slice your bread into four slices such that two slices can fit into the toaster oven at a time. They need to be twice as thick as a typical slice of bread, so you can’t use regular pre-sliced bread. I prefer a raisin loaf for that extra sweetness myself , but it doesn’t really matter what bread you use as long as its crust is not hard.
  3. Beat one egg in a large flat container. Butter 2 slices of bread on one side and place them buttered-side up into the egg. The idea to to have only the bottom half of the bread soaked in egg, so you’ll need to do both slices at the same time. Place the two slices into the toaster oven, this time with the buttered-side down in the toasting tray and grill till the top browns a bit. This should take about ten minutes, depending on your toaster oven.
  4. In a frying pan, melt 3T of butter on low heat. Sprinkle in 1 heaped t of flour and stir fry till it foams up and darkens slightly. Drizzle in 2/3 of a cup of milk, stirring all the while to get rid of any lumps. Sprinkle in a flat t each of nutmeg and pepper. When you see a nice white sauce, turn off the heat. Then add 1T of cognac and half of your cheese. Mix well to get a cheese sauce. When this cools further, you should end up with a cheese paste.
  5. Arrange your ham slices on the toasted egg-bread. If you like, you can spread a bit of mustard on the bread before that. For croque monsieur, I usually prefer thinly sliced deli ham (the type with water added) as it is softer and adds more bounce to the bite. Sprinkle half the remaining grated cheese on the ham and then cover with the other two slices of bread.
  6. Spread the cheese paste on top of the sandwiches and then sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the paste. Toast in the toaster oven again till the cheese becomes a nice golden brown. This should take 15 -20 minutes. Parts of the bread that are not covered by the cheese paste will likely get burnt. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim some off that off and serve.

Notes

  • Croque Monsieur means Mister Crunchy in French.
  • A regular Croque Monsieur does not contain any egg. When served with a fried or poached egg, the same sandwich is called a Croque Madame. Technically, my version is a cross between the two. 
  • Gruyère is often used in place of Emmental for Croque Monsieur, as both of these cheeses have a buttery flavour. Raclette is another option. Have a look at Cheese Page for more details.
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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in Appetizers, French, Recipe

 

Tags: , , , ,

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