I made a very “fancy” dinner last night… Croque Monsieur, which is really just a fancy French name for a Grilled Ham and Cheese. Sounded impressive, yes? It kinda was… cuz I added wine. Wait… it gets better… I put it on the CHEESE!
I started with some really yummy sourdough bread from the local grocery store. I sliced it and popped it into a hot oven to dry the bread thoroughly. As the bread was drying, I tossed a few tablespoons of Chardonnay with some tasty shredded cheese. Note: I used a sharp cheddar with a little mild cheddar thrown in, but I could have just as easily used gruyere or swiss cheese. Since sharp cheddar is what I had in the fridge, sharp cheddar is what I used. This is my favorite rule of thumb… use what you’ve already got in the fridge if at all possible. I really don’t like to have to make a separate trip to the store for one item… I always come home with too many “extras”! I also made sure that I had some deli sliced ham already in the fridge to be able to use… Check!
The biggest addition to this meal really is just a simple condiment. I’m not sure what you’d call it, but I stirred together about half a ramekin of fat free sour cream, a glob of dijon mustard, some garlic, salt and pepper. I used this flavored sour cream as the “glue” to keep all the layers together during the cooking process. It was a really tasty addition. I was making dinner for my husband and myself, so I used enough of all the ingredients to make four open-faced sandwiches (two for each of us). If you’re making dinner for more people, you’d obviously want to have more ingredients on hand to feed everyone.
Once I had everything ready, I drained the cheese on some paper towels and blotted it to remove any excess moisture. This is important because the excess liquid ends up making the cheese a little soupy instead of getting browned and toasty as it broils.
Assembling the individual Croque Monsieurs was quite easy. I spread a thin layer of flavored sour cream on the dry toasts, topped it with ham (I used a thinner amount of ham for myself and a thicker layer for my husband… see? Individualizing your meal is easy when YOU”RE the cook!), then spread another thin layer of the sour cream mixture. Check out the photo of this in the collage I’ve included… even at this point, it’s looking delicious! I piled on enough cheese to make a mound on each sandwich. The broiler really did all the heavy lifting on this dish… bubbly and hot, these sandwiches were really decadent.
When I told a friend of mine what I was making, she let me know that she really prefers a Croque-Madame… and that is a croque monsieur with a fried egg on top. I might have to try that one the next time this makes it into my dinner rotation.
Feel free to play around with your favorite cheeses and different deli ham… maybe even try a heavier bread… whatever you do, I hope you’ll try this recipe and see how it’s received in your family. Tweaking recipes to fit individual tastes is really what makes cooking so much fun.
I may not be a chef… but my family will never starve. Of this, I am certain!
On a side note: my darling husband said that he couldn’t look at the name of this dish without being reminded of an episode of Friends, where Joey tries to learn how to speak French. Apparently, in our house, this dish will always be known as “Joey’s Grilled Ham and Cheese”. Enjoy this YouTube link!