Croque Monsieur

Croque Monsieur; I had no idea what this is until I came upon it in my Unit Kitchen workbook and thanks to google, and a brief mention in the movie ‘It’s Complicated’ (with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin) I now know it’s basically the french fast food version of ham and cheese sandwich. Even McDonalds tried to win the french locals by naming their sandwich the “Croque McDo”! Oh dear..Maybe I should come up with Croque Foodsze (chuckles 😆 )

Now, Wikipedia can’t tell me the origin of the croque monsieur but monsieur is the french equivalent of Mr. and croque is derived from croquer which means ‘to crunch’. Notice that the coned construction of profiteroles precedes with a croque as well i.e. croquembouche which means ‘crunch in the mouth’, so why Crunchy Mister or Mr. Crunchy? Who knows? It beats me that when a fried or poached egg is added to the croque monsieur, it becomes croque madame! But technically, since I added tomatoes to it, it is now called croque provençal

Terminology aside, this is not your average ham and cheese sandwich. It is loaded with the good (tasty) bits that might possibly break the calorie counter. And for me, it was a case of taste now, think later (I did punish myself on the cross-trainer for 1 hour but that meant I was another hour short of burning off the entire croque monsieur I had and that was just 1 sandwich!) So, what makes up the croque monsieur?

  • It starts off with 2 slices of crusty bread which are then pan-fried or toasted in butter or for better flavour, clarified butter. Think of giant croutons. Technically, you should remove the crust but I love my Viennese crust bread so I just left it on.
  • Next, Dijon mustard is spread on both butter-toasted bread slices.
  • Ham goes on top of one bread slice, then topped with tomato slices (which changes my croque monsieur to croque provençal) and then covered with the other bread slice.
  • And here comes the next calorie-busting part. The sandwich is topped with béchamel sauce which is a white sauce made with a roux of butter and flour, milk and a pinch of nutmeg. To give it more tang, a little parmesan cheese  is melted through the sauce.
  • Then, grated Swiss Gruyère cheese is sprinkled on top of the béchamel sauce. Gruyère is of course essential to the croque monsieur as it has a slightly sweet and nutty flavour unlike its piquant parmigiano-reggiano counterpart. But I like a balance of both sharpness and creaminess; therefore I added the parmesan in the white sauce. 
  • The entire sandwich is then placed under the grill, cooked au gratin, until cheese is bubbling and golden, then flipped onto the other side, slathered with more  béchamel sauce and sprinkling of Gruyère, grilled once more and Voilà! Croque Monsieur/Provençal.

 Now, what did I say about breaking the calorie counter? Bon Appétit!


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