Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Boyer Croque Monsieur

        Variation: For the Croque-Madame, just fry up an egg, place it on top and sprinkle with parsley.
There are literally dozens of ways of making this French working-class classic—some require special utensils. The Boyer family's open-faced sandwich uses half the bread, is easy to prepare in the average kitchen and is a family favorite. (Serves four. This recipe calls for two slices of bread each, but some of the family do ask for a third.) 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (I use skim)
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
8 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced (but not paper-thin)                                                                           
8 slices Gruyère (Swiss Cheese)                                                                                                                
2 large tomatoes, sliced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour, whisking until it becomes unified into a paste. Slowly add the milk, ¼ cup at a time, whisking so that the milk is absorbed by the mixture and makes a thick white sauce (Béchamel). Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg, and set aside. Toast the bread, placing the slices on a baking sheet, and bake until a light golden color (two- to three minutes). Turn each slice and bake for another one- to two minutes, until lightly toasted. Lightly brush the toasted breads with the Béchamel sauce. Add a slice of ham to each, top with a slice of Gruyère and finally with a slice of tomato, and bake the open-faced sandwiches for 3-4 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for one- to three minutes, or until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned and the tomato is cooked. Serve hot with a knife and fork.

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