A French classic in 20 minutes

Submitted Mon, 04/09/2012 - 10:27am by Admin

My family is always happy to eat a hot sandwhich for dinner. And the Croque Monsieur (pronounced "crock mohn-shure" ... well sort of) is a delicious, warm, stick-to-your-ribs meal that you eat with a knife and fork!

This version saves you a bit of time by pan-toasting the sandwiches instead of using the oven. And we saved ourselves even more work by hitting our grocery store's bakery for the French bread, and the deli for some thin-sliced ham and swiss. Here's what you'll need!

Quick Croque Monsieur

For each sandwich:
2 slices french bread
2 slices swiss cheese
4 or 5 slices of thin ham
1 t butter
Dijon mustard

Quick Cheese Bechamel Sauce

(This makes enough for two sandwiches. Double recipe for four sandwiches.)
1 T Butter
1 heaping T flour
1 cup milk (skim not recommended)
scant 1/4 c. parmesan OR guyere
1/4 t salt
a pinch each of pepper and nutmeg

First, make the sauce. You'll want to practice "mise en place" cooking - a French term for "everything in place" - when you make a bechamel, because although this is a super easy recipe, the process can go pretty quickly. So get your cup of milk poured, your tablespoon of flour ready, and your nutmeg, salt and pepper in a dish.

In a small saucepan, heat one tablespoon of butter over medium heat. When it's melted and starting to get foamy, sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk. Continue whisking the mixture until it becomes golden brown. Don't leave the pan and don't stop whisking! It can burn quickly.

While you whisk, drizzle in the cup of milk. Whisk VERY fast, like your life depends on it! This will keep the flour from clumping. Put in the nutmeg, salt and pepper.

No one said you could quit whisking yet! Once the liquid is hot, stir in the cheese. Bring this sauce just barely to a boil, never stopping whisking (or the bottom will burn.) Once it has thickened (this whole process of making the sauce usually takes five minutes), remove from the heat and set aside.

Assemble your sandwiches next. Butter one side of each slice of bread.

In a pan on medium heat, place a slice of bread buttered side down, layer with two slices of swiss and then the ham. On the non-buttered side of the remaining bread, spread with dijon mustard. Place it on the top of your pile, and cover the sandwich(es).

After a minute or when the first side is golden brown, turn the sandwich over and cover again to help the cheese melt.

When your sandwich is golden brown and the filling is hot, remove from pan. Give the sauce a quick whisk and pour over each. In the classic recipe, the sandwiches would be placed under a broiler so that the sauce turns golden brown on top. If you have the time, go for it! But we can never wait.

Serve with something French - such as "haricots verts" (green beans) ... or maybe ... French Fries?

Croque Monsieur

Let us know if you try this recipe, and what you think of it, or any alterations/variations you did. Leave comments below!

~A. Snyder, Keystone Kitchen Staff