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You Asked For it: Croque Monsieur, the classic French bistro sandwich

The Croque Monsieur is full of flavor.

Ellen Folkman | Special to the Times

The Croque Monsieur is full of flavor.

I would like a recipe for Croque Monsieur. Does anyone have one to share?

Sarah Sullivan, Bradenton

Cindy Shea of Spring Hill shares a recipe she found on the Williams-Sonoma website. The Croque Monsieur is a Parisian cafe classic and a twist on a traditional grilled ham and cheese sandwich. If you've never made a Mornay sauce, it's easy but very rich. Make sure you cook the roux adequately so there is no flour taste to the sauce. A roux is equal parts fat and flour and is a thickener for sauces. In this case the fat is the butter. This delicious sandwich has a lot of flavor going on with the cheese sauce, mustard and ham. I love the white mountain bread from the Publix bakery and that's what I used.

Recipe request

Linney Reynolds of Palmetto is looking for a recipe for bread and butter pickles that are hot and spicy and do not need to be cooked. She had a recipe years ago and seems to have lost it. Anne Kitko of Seffner would like the recipe for what she calls the best red pasta sauce on the planet. It was at a small pizzeria, the Gardens, on Busch Boulevard in Tampa.

I had mentioned in the column that featured the Chart House mud pie recipe that I could not find the chocolate wafer cookies and instead used a premade chocolate crust. Bonnie Barlow, Carol Binding, Dircy Bryant and Kathy Nunes all wrote to tell me that Nabisco still makes chocolate wafer cookies and that they can be found in Publix by the ice cream toppings, which, in my local store, are at the end of an aisle or also known as an end-cap.

Recipes tested by Times correspondent Ellen Folkman unless otherwise noted. Send requests to You Asked For It, P.O. Box 1159, Crystal Beach, FL 34681 or email youaskedforit@tampabay.rr.com. Include your name, city and phone number.

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Croque Monsieur

For the Mornay sauce:

1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter

1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

1 cup grated Comté or Gruyere cheese

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of ground cayenne

Fine sea salt, to taste

For the sandwich:

8 slices good-quality sandwich bread

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

½ cup whole-grain mustard

1 pound boneless picnic ham or other cured ham, thinly sliced

To make the Mornay sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until combined and then cook and whisk for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes more, allowing the sauce to further thicken, then remove from the heat. Add the cheeses, nutmeg and cayenne and stir until the cheeses melt. Season with salt.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush slices with butter, then flip them over, buttered side down. Spread the second side of each slice with the mustard and spoon 2 tablespoons of the Mornay sauce on top. Top 4 slices with one-fourth of the ham, followed by 1 tablespoon of the Mornay sauce.

Bake all slices until the sauce is bubbling and brown and the bottom of each bread slice is crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and, using a spatula, marry the Mornay-topped slices with the ham-topped slices. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Cindy Shea of Spring Hill

You Asked For it: Croque Monsieur, the classic French bistro sandwich 12/09/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 9, 2013 4:32pm]
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