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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Croque Monsieur au Poivre - Lunch and Appetizer Version

One of my favorite sandwiches - with julienned pear and chioggia beet salad

Appetizer version drizzled with a little honey

Julienne bartlet pear and chioggia beet + olive oil +seasoned rice wine vinegar + salt and pepper 

One of the best memories I have of Paris is sitting in a café terrace, eating a croque monsieur (or croque madame) and people watching.  This French version of the ham and cheese is a staple in most brasseries and, with a small salad, makes for a very satisfying and inexpensive lunch.   Every restaurant has their own version, but the best ones are those made with brioche bread.  It is light and adds a slight sweetness that compliments the saltiness of the ham and cheese so well.

You can add pretty much anything you want, like caramelized onions, tomatoes, grilled vegetables, etc.  For this particular recipe, I added pepper boursin cheese to the béchamel to give it a little something extra.  

The second version is the same recipe that is presented differently and works very well as a bite sized appetizer.

You will need:  for 4 croque monsieur 

  • 8 slices of white, brioche or pain viennois for best results (but you can use the bread you prefer)
  • sliced smoked ham
  • 2 tbsp (30g) of butter
  • 1/4 cup (30g) of white flour
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) of milk
  • 1/2 (75g) of pepper boursin cheese
  • nutmeg
  • salt 
  • grated emmental cheese (or cheese of your choice)

  1. Start by making a basic ham sandwich;
  2. Butter the outside of the sandwich and toast each side in a pan over medium heat;
  3. Preheat oven broiler;
  4. Melt butter ( 2tbsp - 30g) in a small saucepan over medium heat;
  5. Add flour (1/4 30g), whisk and cook for 2-3 minutes (making sure that the roux does not colour);
  6. Add milk and whisk until béchamel begins to boil and thickens;
  7. Add a pinch of nutmeg and boursin cheese (1/2 of the cheese - 75g) and whisk together until melted;
  8. Taste and season with salt if needed;
  9. Spoon a generous portion of the béchamel over the toasted ham sandwich and sprinkle with grated cheese;
  10. Place under the broiler (middle of the oven) until bubbling and cheese is golden (watch carefully as this can go quickly).
  11. Croque monsieur can be prepared ahead to this point, cooled and frozen. 

To prepare appetizer version:
  1. Remove the crusts from the bread and flatten with a rolling pin;
  2. Butter the bread and place a thin slice of ham to cover;
  3. Roll, cut in 3 even pieces and secure with a toothpick; 
  4. Make the same béchamel sauce as described in steps 4 to 8 above;
  5. Spoon a small amount over the roll and cover with a piece of cheese;
  6. Place under the broiler until golden;
  7. Can be prepared this way ahead of time and gently reheated when you are ready to serve - remove toothpicks before serving;
  8. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley and drizzle with a little honey;

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and drizzle with a little honey

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