As a non-meat eater, I didn’t want to poison anyone with raw meat at Eileen’s bridal shower, not personally knowing how to cook it, so I decided on a recipe in which I could buy meat from the deli to satisfy everyone. I first came across this recipe on Omaha Beach in France before travelling to Normandy American Cemetary and Memorial, of course getting the Croque Madame with egg instead of the deli meat. It was an immediate melt-in-your-mouth must-try-again encounter, in which I found on Epicurious and spiced it up a bit to have a more appetizer appeal.
To make this you should purchase:
- 1 stick salted butter, softened
- 8 slices pain de mie or firm white bread, I purchased Challah bread
- 8 ounces Gruyère cheese, 16 thin slices with rind removed
- 8 (1-ounce) slices smoked ham
I sliced my cheese rather thick because the deli did not have any pre-sliced Gruyère cheese. Sharp white cheddar cheese will also work if you are looking to save yourself from slicing your hand off. For the appetizer version of these, I cut the Challah pre-sliced pieces in half and brushed on a decent helping of melted butter. I also left off the Dijon mustard, as this recipe didn’t call for any, but it is in the usual Croque Monsieur and would have added a nice tang to each bite. Slab on a teaspoon or so of the Dijon mustard atop the butter if you are using it.
Next, take your pre-cut slices of Gruyère cheese (or sharp white cheddar), thick or thin depending on your desire, and place it directly onto the buttered and mustarded bread. Take a piece of ham for each slice and fold in half to fit properly (we ran out of ham so had to take only a half a piece but if you are using as much cheese as I did, the more ham the better). Throw in a preheated broiler or toaster oven for 5 min or until the cheese browns and forms a nice crunchy crust. Enjoy.
A typical Croques Monsier is a sandwich, full slices of bread, and topped with another slice of bread instead of the open-faced bites that I made. You should douse the top layer of bread in butter to keep it from burning and to get a nice crunchy, buttery texture. Halfway through, flip the sandwich and place a slice of cheese on top of each sandwich, letting it melt down the edges like a bowl of french onion soup.
For the vegetarian twist on this sandwich, I use the Croque Madame recipe, which calls for all the same ingredients (including the ham but you can leave this off) but you also place a fried egg (however you like to cook them) inside the sandwich and when the sandwich is finished cooking drizzle a Béchamel sauce on top before serving. Delicious.