Sunday, April 7, 2013

Easy Croque Monsieurs

I married into a French-Italian family. The best part of this is when my father-in-law would be talking to me and switch into French without realizing it, leaving me clueless. The worst part of this is when I first met my in-laws and my husband left me alone with them for about 10 minutes, leaving me to understand what they were saying through their thick accents. I just sat there and smiled.
My mother-in-law is an amazing cook, but her recipes are hard to recreate because she's the kind of cook that uses "a little bit of this and a little bit of that." One day I'm going to have to shadow her and write down what she does, or go crazy trying to perfect her homemade oatmeal and pea soup and half a dozen other recipes I dream about her making for me!
My husband didn't grow up on casseroles (what??!!) or traditional PB&J sandwiches. Instead, he had such sandwiches as Croque Monsieurs. Basically a French sandwich with Dijon mustard, ham, swiss, and pepper. Really simple but so good. I've had one at a French restaurant we found in Seattle and it was served with "pomme frites"aka fries (my high school French comes in handy sometimes). This particular sandwich was served with a thick bread, lots of ham, a Swiss cheese sauce, and a lot of pepper.  My recipe is slightly easier, I don't make a cheese sauce. I just use cheese. It's less messy and quicker to make.
A variation of the Croque Monsieur is the Croque Madame. It's similar to the Croque Monsieur except that it also includes a fried egg on top, sometimes with b├ęchamel sauce included (again, a step I generally avoid because it defeats the whole "quick and easy" approach).
Lastly, Croque Monsieurs and Croque Madames can be eaten open-face or sandwich style. 
Did I mention my kids LOVE this particular dinner?! My six-year-old doesn't love Dijon mustard (he also doesn't love cheese...whose kid is he anyway?!) and I use butter on his sandwiches and everyone is happy.

Croque Monsieur Sandwich (or Croque Madame Sandwich)
by Girls in Aprons

Makes 4 servings, two open-faced sandwiches each

4 ciabatta rolls, cut in half
Dijon mustard
1/2 lb Virginia ham (or any ham, just not honey ham)
8 slices Swiss cheese
Black pepper
Butter (if making Croque Madame sandwiches)
8 eggs (if making Croque Madame sandwiches)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place sliced ciabatta rolls on a cookie sheet, cut side up, and place in preheated oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until tops are toasted. Remove from oven.

Spread each piece of bread with Dijon mustard. Top with ham (as much or as little as you desire) and a slice of Swiss cheese. Place back in oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with a pinch or so of black pepper.

If making Croque Madames, which sandwiches are in the oven, melt butter in a small pan and fry one egg per sandwich. If you don't want the yolk to be runny, break the yolk before flipping the egg over to cook the other side. Once the sandwiches are removed from the oven, top with pepper and then the fried egg.

Serve warm. We usually serve our sandwiches with a green salad and fruit.

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