Monday, April 26, 2010

Croque Monsieur

I had some pretty awesome teachers growing up.  This is something I was well aware of while I was young, but now that I am older, I have truly realized how lucky I was.  I think this is partially because I have matured enough now to look past the fact that I heard my teacher say the word 'boob'.  I took French in middle and high school.  I think foreign language teachers are all a little bit crazy, which is what makes them so great.  I remember the most random and specific details about my three French teachers.  And they all seriously loved anything French.  They taught me so much about the French culture and about French food.  French cooking is sophisticated.  And while, this was no French culinary school, they gave us many opportunities to explore French food...eating and cooking.  A lot of times it was extra credit.  And I was an extra credit kind of girl.  So, I always went home and made different French recipes.  I remember making meringues, buche de noel, crepes, Salade Nicoise, and Croque Monsiuer!

Some recipes call for making a ham and cheese sandwich, dredging in an egg batter and then frying in a skillet as you would French toast and this is actually a Monte Cristo sandwich.  The Monte Cristo sandwich is sometimes fried.  I used to get a similar sandwich at a fast food-ish type place and it was called a "Frenchie".  Ha.  This particular recipe (Ina Garten) is made in the oven, covered in a Mornay sauce and then crisped up under the broiler.  It is delicious.  We had it with a salad of lettuce, grape tomatoes, red onion, and goat cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette.  Normally I would leave the goat cheese out with such a cheesy sandwich, but I needed to use up a little goat cheese.  Shoot.  

In other news, it snowed last night.  Seriously!  I have never been so disappointed in Boulder weather.  

Croque Monsieur
by Ina Garten via Food Network

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted. Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

(Servings: 8, Prep time: 25 min., Cook time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)


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  2. This made me start drooling. That melted cheese?!?! Just divine! I'm feeling you with the needs to stop Colorado!