You know, I love traveling, but I haven’t really had a chance to do much of it lately. And I still haven’t had a chance to do the whole “Europe-thing”. You know, the trip where eager college students cram 10 countries into a month or something? I guess I missed the boat on that one during my single years. And now, with two young children, that honestly doesn’t seem very appealing to me. So my husband and I have decided that if we ever really want to go see everything in that part of the world, we’ll just set up a base camp somewhere over there and then travel selectively for a week or two each time we want to do a country excursion. Then it’s a lot more relaxed (my definition of a true vacation) and there’s more time to enjoy a lot of the overlooked novelties of each place. Sounds fun, right? Will it ever happen? Who knows. But a girl can dream.
For now, I’ll just continue to find recipes that celebrate the best of each corner of the world. The Croque Monsieur is a French-originated grilled ham and cheese sandwich. But oh, it is so much more. This sandwich is taken to the next level of grilled ham and cheese. You see, first of all, ham and Swiss cheese is always a winner in my book. But then add a little Dijon mustard and top the whole thing off with an incredibly rich and creamy cheese sauce, and you seriously have to take a moment and pause at the beauty of this thing before heartily devouring it.
To make the sandwich even better, I got the idea from savuryandsweet to make the whole sandwich with a croissant rather than just sandwich bread, and what can I say? Can it get any more perfect than this?
Croque Monsieur or Madame on Buttery Croissant
For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese grated
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
For the Sandwich:
- 4 buttery croissants
- Dijon mustard
- 8 slices of your favorite ham sliced
- 2-3 cups Gruyere cheese grated
- 4 eggs if making croque-madame
- 2 avocados pitted, halved, and thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
For the Sauce:
In a small saucepan, melt the better over medium heat. Add the flour and stir together to create a roux.
Pour in the milk in small additions. Allow the sauce to slightly thicken between each addition, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Once all milk is added, continue to whisk and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Turn heat to low.
Add Gruyere and Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Take off heat and add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Set aside.
Note: Sauce will thicken more as it cools down. This is fine. It is good to have a very thick sauce as it stays on top of the sandwiches better during cooking.
For the Sandwiches:
Slice the croissants and place face up on a baking sheet. Place in oven and toast for 30 seconds. Turn over and toast for 30 seconds. Remove.
Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on bottom half of each croissant. Add two slices of ham, then the grated Gruyere. Close sandwich with top half of croissant. Generously slather each sandwich top with cheese sauce. Top off with any remaining Gruyere.
Place in oven and bake 3-5 minutes, just long enough to heat through and melt the cheese.
Turn oven to broil, and broil an additional 3-5 minutes until cheese sauce starts bubbling and croissants start to lightly brown.
Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Generously butter pan. Crack an egg and cover with lid. Cook sunny-side up until whites are firm, but yolks are still soft. Slide egg onto top of sandwich. Repeat for each egg and sandwich.
Serve hot with avocado slices on the side.
Quick tip:The key to this sandwich is to lightly toast the croissant so that it does not get soggy when adding the sauce, but to not overcook which will dry out the croissant. If ever in doubt, less time is better!
Dress it Down (Classic Style):
1. Stick with the Croque-Monsieur (without egg) and lose the avocado garnishment.
2. Use normal sandwich bread instead of a croissant. Depending on the soggy factor of the bread you use, you may need to toast for a different amount of time before assembling the sandwich.
Change it Up (Substitutions): For the Gruyere, you may substitute normal Swiss cheese. The flavor will be about the same, but the Gruyere does produce a smoother texture. I've done it with Swiss and it still tastes great!
Croque Monsieur – my way by Savury and Sweet
Croque Monsieur by Barefoot Contessa
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