On a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon I looked high and low in my refrigerator for something to make for lunch that would bring joy to my heart and stomach on such a drizzly, overcast, and not-so-good day. Couldn’t find lefovers, didn’t want to get out the pots and pans and construct something from scratch, and there lo and behold hiding behind a fat jar of dill pickle spears was a lonely package of sliced ham. Scouting around the “cheese drawer” I found a block of cheese leftover from making Fondue the previous week. OMG, stuff to make a Croque Monsieur – so here we go!
4 large slices of French Bread
8 slices of Black Forest ham
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Mayonnaise
3 cups of grated Gruyere cheese (for the Bechamel Sauce)
2 cups milk
3 Tbl flour
3 Tbl melted butter
Celery salt and Onion powder
Make the Bechamel Sauce first so it can be cooking while you assemble the sandwich. You can make this the old-fashioned way on top of the stove in a heavy saucepan or you can do it quickly and will taste just as good in the microwave. I choose the microwave.
- Add 3 Tbl of butter to glass mixing bowl and microwave for 20 seconds.
- Remove and add flour and whisk together to get beginning of a roux. Slowly add the two cups of milk, whisking the entire time so sauce is blended – sauce will be very thin at this stage. Add celery salt and onion powder, whisk and return to microwave and cook for 2 minutes.
- Whisk again, and return to microwave for 1 minute intervals until sauce has thickened, and is smooth and creamy.
- Remove from microwave and add 2 cups of the grated cheese, constantly mixing – you can switch to a wooden spoon right about now. Set aside.
- Lightly toast one side of all the french bread slices. Spread the mayonnaise on two slices and mustard on the other two slices.
- On mustard side place 4 slices of ham. Heap 1/3 cup of grated cheese on top of the ham and top with other slice of bread, mayonnaise side down. Firmly press the sandwich together so cheese will melt evenly.
- Heat up your griddle to high or 350 degrees, add small amount of butter and do final cooking of the sandwiches, quickly toasting on each side.
- Place sandwiches in a glass baking dish and spoon the bechamel sauce over each sandwich. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese on top and put the dish under your broiler till the cheese starts to brown and gets bubbly. Watch it carefully, as it can quickly start to burn. Slide onto serving plate and top with chopped parsley.
- Bistro Gastronomy: Croque-Madame at Café Brasserie Patina in Shizuoka City! (shizuokagourmet.com)