The ultimate french snack
I have been travelling France now since 1984, and I can not remember ever not having a Croque Monsieur. This toasted piece of heaven is as much part of french culinary tradition as a sausage in Germany, a pie in the UK or a burger in the U.S. . Unfortunately, these days you'll be more likely to end up having a microwaved/grilled prefabricated Croque on your plate, but there are still some places where your favourite will be made freshly, on the spot.
So, what is it, and what's with the name?
If I am not misinformed, "croque" means "crunchy", so a Croque Monsieur is obviosly a "crunchy mister". In essence, it's two pieces of buttered toast enclosing a slice of ham, covered with Gruyere, but according to my french ex-girlfriend, there is so much more to it, so here's Croque Monsieur a la Sophie:
- 2 slices of bread (according to tradition, this should be thick sandwich bread, but I've also seen it done with fresh rye bread)
- ca 100g of salted butter
- Salt and Pepper
- 200g of Gruyere
- 50 mls of milk
- 1-3 slices of good quality ham
Melt the butter slowly and add the milk and half of the gruyere to it, stirring slowly and turning it into a nice melange (some people apparently even add a bit of beer to the mixture]. Cover each slice of the bread with the mixture, add the ham to one of them, and stack them together so you have a nice sandwich made up of bread, melange, ham, melange and bread. Sprinkle the rest of the gruyere on top and bake for 10 minutes at 150-200 degrees in the oven/grill.
Now tuck in with a nicely chilled bottle of Sancerre or a glass of Troublette, et voila:
You'll be dining like god in France.