How many of you remember the movie It’s Complicated? The movie starred Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. Meryl Streep’s character owns a bakery and she did her culinary apprenticeship in Paris. So as it turns out she has some skills in the kitchen. Throughout the movie she is serving up these wonderfully, amazing, make you salivate, delicious looking meals, pastries and desserts to her friends and family. In my opinion these incredible dishes were the true stars of this movie. All of my fellow foodies out there who have seen this movie already know what I am talking about…am I right? You found yourself wishing you knew how to make those chocolate croissants or wishing you knew exactly what that sandwich thing was that she served Steve Martin’s character. They said the name more than once but you just couldn’t catch it. Well my friends, after a little research I managed to figure out exactly what that was and found a wonderful recipe that I think you will be very, VERY, pleased with.
This wonderful little sandwich is called Croque Monsieur. It is so much more than an ordinary sandwich. It is made with thick crusty bread and it has a wonderful bechamel sauce and cheeses poured over it. It is truly incredible. I imagined (or wished) I was sitting outside a Parisian bistro with this and a glass of wine and when done I would then be heading to the nearest Parisian flea market or sorry, les puces, to walk off all of those crazy calories…..okay, one can dream can’t she?
I hope you will make this for someone special and possibly watch the movie too so you can have the total food experience that I had. ENJOY my friends!!!
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk or half-and-half
a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup gratred Parmesan cheese
8 slices French or Italian loaf bread
12 ounces ham, sliced
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Make the bechamel sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan on med/low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick. Remove from heat. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese. Set aside.
3. Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and lightly toast them on each side.
4. Lightly brush half of the slices with the mustard. Add the ham slices and about 1 cup of the Gruyere cheese. Top with the other bread slices.
5. Spoon on the bechamel sauce to the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere cheese. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve this with a fresh green salad.
If you top this sandwich with a fried egg it becomes a Croque Madame.
This recipe adapted from Ina Garten.