April 22, 2011

Crouque Monsieur

Oh wow. I just tasted one of the best things ever. In preparation for Leave a Happy Plate's party for letter "G",  I was going to post my Croque Monsieur recipe that showcases the flavor of  Gruyere cheese. Well to be quite honest,  I had posted that recipe a while ago when I was still using pictures from Google images. I've been trying to go back and re-create my recipes, updating them,  and using my own photos. This was one of those days. So I made Croque Monsieur for my lunch today.   I made it much differently then I would typically make it. I wanted to try it out for a brunch  event I would be catering in the spring.  It was amazing.   What a bright spot in my otherwise boring  cleaning day. 
I can see that  interacting with all of you bloggers via Facebook has been a great GOOD for me. I've been going back, updating my recipes and taking pictures of them and this has enabled me to have a bit more excitement and passion in the kitchen. So with all of that said… Here's my updated version of croque Monsieur,  the French version of grilled ham and cheese. But first a few bits of information: 
A croque-monsieur is a warm and bubbly grilled ham and cheese sandwich. It originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. Typically, Emmental or Gruyère cheese is used. these are SWISS cheeses. 
Interesting facts:
The name is based on the verb croquer ("to crunch") and the word monsieur ("mister"). The sandwich's first recorded appearance on a Parisian café menu was in 1910. Its earliest mention in literature appears to be in volume two of Proust's In Search of Lost Time in 1918.
A croque-monsieur served with a fried egg or poached egg on top is known as a croque-madame (or in parts of Normandy a croque-à-cheval). The noted French chef Jacques Pepin also makes a version using chicken instead of ham, which he demonstrated in the "Our Favorite Sandwiches"episode on the PBS series (and its coordinating cookbook of the same title) Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home in which he worked with Julia Child. Many dictionaries attribute the name to the egg resembling an old fashioned woman's hat. The name croque-mademoiselle is associated with many different sandwiches, from diet recipes to desserts.A ham and cheese sandwich snack, very similar to the croque-monsieur, is called a tosti in the Netherlands, and toast (pronounced "tost") in Italy. A version of this sandwich in Spain replaces the ham with sobrassada, a soft sausage from the Balearic Islands that can be easily spread.
Versions of the sandwich with substitutions or additional ingredients are given names modeled on the original croque-monsieur, for example:
  • croque provençal (with tomato)
  • croque auvergnat (with bleu d'Auvergne cheese)
  • croque gagnet (with Gouda cheese and andouille sausage)
  • croque norvégien (with smoked salmon instead of ham)
  • croque tartiflette (with sliced potatoes and Reblochon cheese)
  • croque bolognese / croque Boum-Boum (with Bolognese sauce)
  • croque señor (with tomato salsa)
  • croque Hawaiian (with a slice of pineapple)
  • the "Croque McDo" sandwich at McDonald's locations in France
Here is the recipe for the traditional version, but with MY TWIST!
Ingredients for 6 Servings
  •  8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups milk
  • salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 1/2cups Gruyere, grated and divided
  • 12 slices white sandwich bread.
  • Dijon mustard
  • 4 ounces  ham, shaved or chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  
  2. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wisk for 2 minutes. This cooks out the floury taste.    
  3. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened.   
  4. Off the heat, add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1 cup grated Gruyere, and set aside.  
  5. Get out your favorite 12 welled muffin pan.  I use a Demarle muffin FLEXIPAN.  If you don't have one,  then spray with a non-stick cooking pray.    
  6. Melt remaining  6 tablespoons of butter and set aside. 
  7. Take each slice of bread, flatten it a bit and using a biscuit cutter or other round cutter, make 2 cuts to form to round slices of bread.  You will have 24 pieces all together. 
  8. Lightly brush half the  breads with melted butter, put butter side down into wells of muffin pan.   
  9. Layer ham, then 1 cup of the cheese, dividing it up between the 12 wells.   
  10. Spread mustard on top of remaining bread slices, and place on top of cheese, mustard side down. 
  11.  Brush tops with remaining melted butter. Heat in the oven about 5 minutes until the tops are toasted. Remove from oven.  
  12. Cool five minutes. 
  13. Lift each "muffin" out onto a plate, STACKING 2 on top of each other.  
  14. Ladle with WARM cheese sauce, divided among 6 plates.  
  15.  Garnish with leftover Gruyere and grated nutmeg.    

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