The Croque Monsieur is an elevated toasted ham and cheese sandwich that originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. A Croque Madame is a version of the dish topped with a fried egg. The name is based on the verb croquer (“to bite, to crunch”) and the word monsieur (“mister”). The sandwich’s first recorded appearance on a Paris café menu was in 1910.
We first encountered one at a food and wine event at the Bacara Hotel in Santa Barbara, where we were there sampling our il Fustino oils and vinegars. (For those of you who don’t know we founded il Fustino ten years ago and sold the business a short six months ago.) One of the fun side-benefits of these events is you get to go around and taste and sample everything and you don’t pay the $100 or more entrance fee to get in!
Anyway a lady from the Goodland Kitchen was cooking and sampling these sandwiches. It was probably one of the best things I have ever tasted. We went back to make sure we asked how they were made. Here is the recipe.
|A French cheese sandwich served in French cafes and bars as a quick snack. Probably the best cheese sandwich you will ever have.
Serve with a light green salad. This is a very rich dish.
1/2 tablespoon, butter
1/2 tablespoon, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup, milk
fresh nutmeg – if you don’t have it leave it out
4 slices, white bread – crusts removed about 4 inches square
4 slices, ham – sliced thin
4 slices, mozzarella cheese – about 1/8 inch thick
4 slices, Jarlsberg cheese – about 1/8 inch thick
butter – for buttering bread
- In a sauce pan melt 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir to combine. Cook until flour begins to brown slightly. Carefully add milk stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Add salt and pepper tasting constantly. Bechamel should be only slightly salty, the cheese will do the rest.
- Grate the nutmeg into the Bechamel. Probably about 4 swipes with the grater is all you need. Nutmeg is very potent. Continue mixing the Bechamel until all ingredients are incorporated. Remove from heat.
- On a cutting board arrange your bread slices. Spread a thin coat of dijon mustard on two slices. Add a layer of Jarlsberg cheese, followed by the ham, followed by a layer of mozzarella.
- Smear a layer of the Bechamel over the cheese. Finish with the top slice of bread. Add a bit of butter to the top of the sandwich.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. When hot, carefully flip the sandwich over into the pan butter side down. Cover pan with lid and reduce heat to medium low.
- Cook for 5 minutes or until brown then flip the sandwiches over for another 5 minutes or until brown with the lid on.
- Serve immediately.
Use a nice French or Italian bread but not too thick.