According to Wikipedia a croque monsieur is a “baked or fried ham and cheese sandwich. Traditionally made with Brioche-like bread pieces or with normal butter bread, but with a soft crust, topped with grated cheese. The bread is dipped in whipped eggs, then the whole sandwich is finally baked in the oven or fried in the fry pan (home version).”
French cooking is often complex and tiresome in its attention to detail. If you Google croque monsieur, you will probably find at least ten different recipes each one with it’s own set own rules and regulations to follow. “Only use bread that is slightly sugared and with a large crumb,” “The ham slices should be boiled and salted,” “First brown the bread slices in butter before covering with egg mixture”…the list goes on.
Rest assured that the following recipe has no such constricts. Hell, purists may even deny its authenticity. But we made it (in under ten minutes) and we devoured it (in less than five) and in our book, its a winner all the way.
That said, I do have to insist on three things before you set out to recreate this indulgent treat –
Use the best quality ham slices you can find. I would go so far as to say use only imported ham. Make sure the slices are thin and not too fatty.
The original recipe calls for grated Gruyere cheese. I couldn’t find Gruyere so I used a mix of Emmenthal slices and shredded Mozzarella. Worked a charm.
In absence of good sourdough or brioche, I used simple whole wheat burger buns split into two and thick slices of day old white bread. No complaints here either.
Ok here goes…
Good quality ham sliced
Gruyere or Emmenthal cheese
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1.5 cups milk
Seasoning to taste
Spread a healthy spoon of Dijon mustard on each bread slice.
Arrange in baking tray and pop into the oven for 5 minutes to brown slightly.
While the bread is toasting, prepare your white sauce –
Melt the butter in a pan on a moderate flame
Add 2 tbsp flour and quickly whisk into butter
When the raw smell of flour disappears (approx. 2 to 3 minutes) add the milk. I have found adding cold milk to warm butter works better for some reason. Whisk to remove any lumps.
When the sauce begins to coat the back of your spoon, add the seasoning you prefer. I used cracked black pepper, salt and chilli flakes.
Stir until thick and take off the stove. Add a few cheese slices and some grated mozzarella.
By now your bread will be ready. Remove from the oven and place the ham slices on top of each bread. Spoon over the white sauce. Be generous here.
Place half a cheese slice (or some grated cheese) over the sauce.
Pop back into the oven for another ten minutes or until the sauce is bubbling away and the cheese is melted.
Eat warm either by itself or accompanied by a crisp green salad.
This is the perfect recipe for an indulgent yet super easy breakfast / brunch / lunch / dinner time treat. Yes, it’s generally the best thing to eat any time of the day or night.
Ps: Add a fried egg and the croque monsieur becomes a croque madame 🙂