Thank you to Kathy of All Food Considered, who picked Ina's Croque Monsieur as our second Barefoot Bloggers recipe for April. Croque Monsieur is pretty much a French style ham and cheese sandwich. I looked around on the internet to see if there were any vegetarian versions and got ideas to just leave out the ham and make three versions of this sandwich (really just adding an extra ingredient)...apparently a Croque Provençal adds an herbed mayonnaise and tomato, and a Croque Hawaii adds pineapple, how fun! I am a huge pineapple fan and when I google image searched a Croque Hawaii and saw a photo of one with a cute little maraschino cherry on top I just had to add that to mine :) If the pineapple and cheese combo sounds a little off to you, think pineapple on a cheesy pizza.
I made two loaves of our favorite French bread recipe to use for these sandwiches, which turned out really well. I halved the recipe and had three large sandwiches.
Ina Garten's Croque Monsieur
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread.
Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes.
Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.
Results: These were one of the richest foods I've ever tasted. I could barely eat one half of a sandwich. They were delicious but oh my goodness, just so rich! I had heard of Croque Monsieur sandwiches before but never had one because they are usually served with ham. I was happy to finally give this decadent lunch treat a try, and really like the pineapple and tomato additions and love any excuse to buy gruyere.