Monday, December 2, 2019

C is for: Croque Monsieur {with Colman's Mustard}

Depending on the type of cuisine, I generally have some go-to orders if I happen to see them on the menu.

If it's brunch, I'm a sucker for huevos rancheros or eggs benedict.

If it's Italian food, I will almost always order some sort of bolognese or a spicy rigatoni.

And if I'm at a French restaurant and I see a Croque Monsieur on the menu (especially at breakfast or lunch), then that will most likely be on my plate (with frites!)

So when I decided to partner with Colman's Mustard to create a unique recipe with this spicy mustard, the iconic (and decadent) French sandwich immediately popped into my head.

In the name of "research," I sampled some traditional Croque Monsieurs in the West Village of NYC before trying my hand at home, and I can confidently tell you that I really nailed this. (If I do say so myself!)

*This post is in paid partnership with Colman's Mustard.

Pretty much everything the French do is fancier and more elevated (and likely uses more butter), than anything we do in the states. The Croque Monsieur is basically a fancy grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and I made it even fancier by using croissants and brioche buns for the bread. (Again, I tried both in the name of "research," and I'm happy to report both were equally delicious.)

Often for a Croque Monsieur, either the béchamel sauce will call for Dijon mustard or it will get spread directly on the bread. I decided to swap that out for Colman's English Mustard to add a little kick, and help cut the richness of all the other ingredients. Colman's uses both white and brown mustard seeds from Norwich, England that creates an exceptionally different taste. You can find Colman's on Amazon, or look for it at your local grocery store (I got mine at Whole Foods!)

Whisk 1-2 tablespoons of the mustard into the bechamel sauce depending on how spicy you would like it to be.

Now for the fun part! Assemble your sandwiches by placing the bottoms of each croissant or roll on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Spoon bechamel on each piece, making sure it goes all the way to the edges. Add 1-2 slices of ham and some shredded gruyere. Top with the other half of the bread, and spoon a generous amount of bechamel on top. (BTW... it's perfectly fine... perhaps encouraged... for the bechamel to drip off the sides.)

Sprinkle with more gruyere on top (and do your best "salt bae" impression if you're feeling sassy.)

Sprinkle some snipped chives on top and place in a 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly. (You can also run under the broiler for a couple of minutes to achieve a little extra browning.)

Top with more chives and some finely grated Gruyere and DEVOUR.

For the Béchamel:
1 cup whole milk
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-2 tablespoons Colman's Mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

For assembling:
4 croissants or 4 brioche buns, sliced in half and lightly toasted
4-8 slices of ham
8 ounces of Gruyere, shredded
snipped chives

For the Béchamel:

1) In a small saucepan, warm the milk and bay leaf to a simmer. Keep on low.

2) In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat until it starts to foam (but not brown.) Add the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon or whisk for about 2-3 minutes. Whisk in about 2 tablespoons of the warm milk to loosen the roux. Then, slowly add the rest of the warm milk, whisking constantly until mixture is smooth. Continue cooking and stirring until sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon (about 7 minutes.)

3) Remove from heat and stir in mustard, starting with 1 tablespoon and adding more depending on taste. Stir in nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.

For assembling:

1) Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

2) Place bottoms of rolls or croissants on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread béchamel on each piece of bread, going all the way to the edges. Top with 1-2 slices of ham and sprinkle with shredded Gruyere, using about half of the cheese on the four sandwiches. Place top of each croissant or roll on top of the cheese and spread generously with more béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with the remainder of the Gruyere and snipped chives.

3) Place pan in the oven, and cook 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly. (You can also run under the broiler for the final couple minutes to achieve desired browning.)

4.) Cool slightly and top with more snipped chives. Enjoy immediately!

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