Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Croque Monsieur

Hey.  This is my recipe for those fried and fancy white sauce sandwiches that the French eat.  I didn't even know the official spelling of its name but I know I love it, so I cooked it.  There as simple as that.  I do think I was inspired by 'It's Complicated' though, Meryl Streep just makes cooking and generally living the white upper-middle class so exciting.  Minus the infidelity, she makes you wanna live in a Nancy Meyers film forever and leave only to check the mail.  So here goes...


1.  2 tablespoons of cornflour (cornflour is best for white sauces, as opposed to white plain (or all purpose flour.  I don't know the technical reason why but it fine texture allows for better binding with the butter and then milk, leading to minimal lumps).

2.  About the same amount of butter as the flour, so two tablespoons but if this does not work, try  it out with a additional tablespoon.

3.  1 cup of milk.
4.  1 teaspoon of wholegrain mustard.
5.  1 Chicken stock cube.  This cube is not going to transform your white sauce into a chicken flavoured dish, it quite simply merges with the sauce, extracting the blandness of an unflavoured white sauce. 
6.  2 cups of cheese (I quite simply use the pleb cheese, which is tasty cheese, but fancy alternatives are also fine).
7. Two tablespoons of Philly cream cheese.

8.  4 -5 sprigs of  finely chopped chives.

9.  Bread slices (any kind you like)

10.  A slice of nice ham for each sandwich.

White sauce method

There isn't a whole lot to this method. 

1.  Add butter and cornflour to a well heated sauce or fry pan.
2. Blend together with a wooden spoon.  The aim here is to ensure the you are cooking the cornflour, un-cooked flour leads to lumps, in my experience. 
3.  Once the flour and butter are combined, add milk, slowly.  Let the milk heat slowly but do not allow it to boil.  You should experience the sauce becoming fuller at this point.
4.  Add the cheese, making sure you are stirring continuously to avoid lumps. 
5.  Add cream cheese, following the continual stirring process. 
6.  Add salt, pepper and stock to sauce.
7.  Take the pot off the boil and stir through the mustard grains.  Do the same with the chives.

Sandwich part

The sandwich part is pretty easy.  Once the white sauce is done, spready it evenly and thickly on the pieces of bread.  Top with ham, then add more white sauce to the top.  Place another similarly sauced slice of white bread atop the 'hammed' bread.  Place more white sauce on top of the made up sandwich, add more plain melting (tasty or other variety) and grill under a griller till the cheese melts and forms a melted layer, like in the photo. 

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