The French have a “Je ne sais pas quoi!”

There is a myth surrounding the French and their love of good food. Once upon a time maybe that was true, but times have changed and many establishments, no longer have good chefs on hand but “Buy” in, meals ready to go, meat already butchered.

This happens on the UK as well, of course. I once asked Michel Roux ( he of La Gavroche and Master Chef), why so many Chefs, on the programme did not know many basic skills, and the answer was ” because the restaurants Buy In”!

Another famous chef, who actually did more than that was Gordon Ramsey. He might have several Michelin stars, but when he opened his Gastro Pub in Chiswick West London, he too was guilty as none of the meals served, were actually made on the premises.

The French have a way with food, however. For example, we have Cheese on toast, they have Croque Monsieur , or better still Croque Madame, then we have Heinz Baked Beans, they have Cassoulet. BUT, and it is a big BUT, eating in a snack bar a Croque Monsieur rarely looks like or even tastes like it should.

The absolute epitome of a Croque Monsieur or Madam is to be had in Mexico City and yes do not laugh it really is!

To make this delight is very simple to make two you will need the following:-

  • 3 slices of bread , preferably sourdough per person lightly toasted and buttered.
  • 2 slices of really nice ham, or more if you use thin ham. No fat and no rind !!
  • A fried egg per person, or you could have a poached egg, not traditional but!
  • Soft butter for the toast.

For the sauce

  • 25 grms unsalted butter ( I only ever buy unsalted)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 150 mls milk and 150 mls cream, or 300 mls milk, up to you
  • Salt to taste, a 1/4 tsp dry mustard or 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • +/- 50 grms grated cheese or more to taste. Traditionally it would be Comté , Gruyère or Emmental cheese ( after all it is a French dish) but use which ever cheese suits you.

Toast the bread and butter it, make a triple layer sandwich with the ham.

Male the sauce. I always make my sauce in the microwave, and I know it’s not the way that chefs do it but it is easy.

Put your sauce ingredients into a microwave jug mix and pop in the oven on high for one minute. Stir and repeat, stir and repeat until the sauce is thick and homogenous. Stir in the cheese, until it melts. Pour over the ” Sandwich ” and pop under the grill to brown. Whilst that is doing quickly fry your egg. Pop the egg on top and garnish how you like and serve straight away! ( or you could put the egg on first and then the sauce, as seen on the picture above!

This morning I saw an alternative, out of New York, as a way for leftovers, aftert Thanksgiving.

Instead of ham, use Turkey and add pickles to the sandwich as well.

Whichever way you choose, Bon Appétit!

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