Firstly, apologies for the state of my blog. I have had such a bad time with my – now ex – hosting company, meaning my blog is well and truly hammered at the moment. I am in the process of laboriously re uploading each and every image post whilst also trying to sort out the mess that’s been left in the wake of leaving said hosting company. I won’t bore with the details, but let’s just say that I will not be using them again.
Back to the food…
I don’t mind admitting that I’m a bit of a cheese addict. We have a relationship. I love it, and it loves me, it’s that simple. If someone tried to make me give it up, I think I’d commit horrific crimes….
I remember a good few years ago in the states, the FDA banned mimolette (a cheese with live mites in) on the advice of some people in suits that probably never experienced cheese outside the realms of dairylea, or luminous squared burger cheese. Needless to say, it seems it has made a return to the tables of cheese connoisseurs that simply wont be dictated to by the government. Good for them.
Would I try a cheese with live mites in? Yes, I probably would.
You may or may not be pleased to know, that this recipe does not call for mite infested cheese, but more of a soft, nutty, mellow, buttery cheese called Gruyère. It’s one of the best melting cheeses, and no substitute will do for a Croque monsieur. Yes you can use cheddar, yes you could use edam, but it just wouldn’t be half as good.
A croque monsieur is basically a posh ham and cheese toastie, posh because it requires a little more effort than just putting slices of cheese between bread and toasting it. However, the reward is much more satisfying. I added a smidgen of Dijon mustard to mine, if you don’t like it then you can just omit it from the recipe.
How to make a Croque Monsieur (makes 2 sandwiches)
for the bechamel
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 20g unsalted butter
- 250ml milk
- Pinch of grated nutmeg
- 50g grated Gruyère cheese
- Salt and white pepper
To make the sandwich
- 4 slices of thick cut bread such as a farmhouse loaf
- Dijon mustard (optional)
- 100g good smoked ham
- 80g grated Gruyère
- First thing to do is lightly toast the bread, you just want a light brown, even colour, not too dark otherwise it will burn when you finish them in the oven. Put them to one side to use when ready.
- Now to make the bechamel sauce. Place the flour and butter in a pan on a low heat, and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter melts and forms a paste with the flour. Cook it for a minute or two in order to cook out the raw flour taste. Now turn up the heat to medium and add a little of the milk, say about 35ml ish. Stir it in until it’s absorbed into the flour, it will thicken up into a lump, this is normal so don’t worry. Repeat by adding more milk and stirring in until the lumps dissolve through the sauce. You should end up with a thick smooth sauce but it doesn’t matter too much if you have a few lumps, just strain them out. Finish the sauce by adding the grated Gruyère, nutmeg and season with salt and white pepper. Mix on a low heat until the Gruyère has melted completely. Take off the heat and cover until needed.
- To assemble the sandwich is easy. Take one slice of your pre done toast and lightly spread with Dijon mustard, then add 50g of ham for each sandwich, then spoon over some of the bechamel you have made, before finishing with around 40g of grated Gruyère per sandwich. Place the other toast on top before lastly spooning over even more of that delicious bechamel sauce over the top. Now place the sandwiches on a baking tray lined with parchment, and bake in a hot oven for about 5 minutes until golden and bubbling. Be careful they don’t burn though, they can catch quite easily.