Croque Monsieur, Madame & Provencal

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

One sandwich served three different ways. Its a staple of French bistros and makes for the perfect snack, lunch or light dinner. Its a go-to dish that pleases just about everyone. And as such, it has become my own go-to dish to make at home as well as a reliable dish to order from restaurant menus. What it is? It’s a Croque Monsieur–or Madame or Provencal–if you like.

The concept is simple, take good quality ham and cheese, layer it on bread that has been brushed with bechamel sauce and grill it. Add a slice of tomato to make it Provencal or top it with a sunny side up to turn it into a Madam. It’s a sandwich that is meant to be eaten with a knife and fork and tastes perfect when washed down with a cool glass of Rose wine. Its so easy and so good. So go ahead and make yourself one tonight.

CROQUE MONSIEUR (or MADAME or PROVENCAL) 

To make the bechamel sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

Pinch of ground nutmeg

1 bay leaf

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat.
  • Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk, then add the ground nutmeg and bay leaf.
  • Increase the temperature to high and  whisking constantly, boil until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.

For the sandwiches:

4 slices white sandwich bread

4 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham

4 ounces sliced Gruyère cheese

1 tablespoon melted butter

1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese

2 slices tomato (optional)

2 eggs, cooked sunny side up (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Spread the bread slices with the bechamel sauce, making sure to extend the sauce all of the way to the edges.
  • Place two slices of bread, bechamel side up, on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Top with the ham and half of the cheese. Add the tomato, if using.
  • Top with the remaining slices of bread, bechamel side up, then top with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake the sandwiches until the cheese is brown and bubbling, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • If you are making Croque Madams, cook the eggs in a hot skillet coated with non-stick cooking spray.
  • When the sandwiches are toasted, slide the eggs on top of the sandwiches and serve immediately.

Serves 2

 

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