Wednesday, July 7, 2010


A croque-monsieur is a French grilled cheese sandwich and, like anything whose main ingredients are bread and cheese, it's really incredibly delicious.

Though I lived in Paris for three months, in the south of France for another five weeks, and have visited France numerous times, I somehow managed to get through all those visits without ever eating a croque-monsieur. On my last trip to Paris, en route from Malta to San Francisco, I decided I really should try one, as they're such an essential part of French culture, and I was blown away!

Though I kept telling myself it was just a glorified grilled cheese sandwich, the croque-monsieur I had at a beautiful café in the sixth arrondissement was far better than any grilled cheese sandwich I'd ever eaten. What made it so good? Well the location certainly helped, but I would also say the excellent quality bread and cheese, the addition of ham, and of course, a generous portion of butter!

As soon as I came back to California I made my own, and I plan to make many many more in the future!!

1 or 2 medium-thin slices of bread*
High-quality french cheese**

* Though many recipes call for pain de mie, which is basically French sandwich bread (soft & white), the croque-monsieur I had in Paris was on a more crusty rye bread, and I really liked it that way.
** Emmenthal is the most common cheese used, and that's what I used, but a similar cheese like Gruyère would also work.

If you have a toaster oven, that's perfect for the croque-monsieur. If not, a regular oven or a pan on the stovetop will also work. Assuming you're using a toaster-oven, preheat it to around 350º F/180º C and prepare the croque-monsieur while it's heating:

Butter the bread thoroughly and place the ham in an even layer on top of the bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then spread the cheese in an even layer on top of the bread. Though most versions of the croque-monsieur have you add another slice of bread on top (decked with béchamel for a fancy version or with an egg to make a croque-madame), my Parisian croque-monsieur was served open-faced, and I enjoyed it very much that way. Either way, place the croque-monsieur in the heated oven and let cook about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted.

Serve warm with some fresh, lightly dressed salad.

No comments: