Bonjour, mes amies! Avez-vous faim?I am not going to lie, that’s where my french skills end. Which is really sad because based on my education level I should be at level 6 and able to read novels. I guess when I was studying abroad in Paris, I was more focused on food and booze. Paris, je t’aime. I think my greatest take away from the city of love was my love for cheese…and bread… and cheese.Maybe I only ate cheese and bread because I couldn’t afford anything else after I spent all my money on wine. I know, really healthy. The funny thing is, I would literally order a plate of cheese and bread. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Chris would always order Croque Madame which was great for me because I would eat his too. Only problem is, I have one food that I really dislike, eggs. Ugh gross.
I think the only time Chris and I ever fight is when we are deciding what to eat, especially when it’s breakfast time. I HATE breakfast! Every single dish has eggs in it. IF I ever make breakfast, it’s for Chris because it is his favorite meal of the day. Luckily, the French have a solution for me, Croque Monsieur. NO eggs but plenty of bread, cheese, cheese sauce, and ham. More my style. The one time I can slightly stand eggs is when they are on this dish. The bread soaks up the runny yolk and it tastes pretty delicious. Still, I always get the monsieur and Chris gets the madame.
Aside from the very obvious crispy, melted, cheesyness on the outside of the toasted bread, there is also cheesy béchamel sauce on the inside. The French know how to make a sandwich.
Béchamel is such a great cooking skill to have. It is super easy and so versatile. It is the classic thickener for white sauce, gravy, soups… the list is endless. The classic ratio for roux is 60% flour to 40% fat. For the “fat” the classic go to is butter. The roux should be smooth and glossy. If it is greasy you need more flour and if it is too dry you need more butter. When the roux is golden and you have cooked out the flavor of flour, you add milk and the perfect cream sauce will thicken before your eyes. I add nutmeg to this béchamel because it pairs perfectly with the Emmentaler cheese I add to the sauce. Slice up some fresh baked bread, toast with butter and spread on the Emmentaler béchamel. Now classically, Croque Madame et Monsieur is made with jambon, ham en englais. During the holidays when I have lots of left over ham, I put big chunks of honey baked ham in this sandwich. It is so good! On typical weekends however, I use thinly sliced honey ham or sometimes I like to be non traditional and use thinly sliced honey baked turkey. Chris said the “best one ever” was when I used honey baked turkey. We always have a lot of turkey in stock at my house because it’s our favorite lunch sandwich meat. This time I used turkey, but I am also a huge fan of traditional ham. It just depends on what you feel like.Finally, we have reached my favorite part of this sandwich. The crispy, melty, heavenly, Emmentaler cheese which is baked on top of the sandwich. This is what makes the Croque Madame et Monsieur far superior to any ham and cheese sandwich. Ever. Grade Emmentaler cheese on top of the Croque and place it in the broiler. Watch it carefully because anything in the broiler can burn FAST. I like my cheese to be really toasty so I have to be extra careful because usually the edges of the bread burn quickly.
Croque Madame et Monsieur
Serving Size: 4 Croque Madame or Monsieur
Ham or Turkey (thick or thin, it is great both ways!)
2 cups of grated Emmentaler Cheese
1 tablespoons of butter + small amount spread on bread to toast
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of whole milk
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of black pepper
To make the béchamel, make a roux by combining butter and flour over medium heat. Add milk and whisk until smooth. Cook until the béchamel until it is a thick sauce consistency. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Add 1/2 cup of Emmentaler cheese and whisk until completely melted.
Spread butter on bread and toast one side of each slice in a sauté pan. Spread béchamel on the non toasted side on one or both slices of your bread, depending how cheesy you like it. Place the ham or turkey on top of the béchamel and top with the second piece of bread. Top the bread with grated Emmentaler cheese and place in the broiler for a few minutes. Watch closely. Remove from the oven and the Croque Monsieur is ready to serve. To make a Croque Madame, fry an egg and place on top of the sandwich. Bon Appetite!