By Frédéric Tandy
The Croque Monsieur is the classic sandwich you'll find on almost every menu in brasseries or bistros in France. They should be in every home! You can serve them warm out of the oven or at room temperature. They go great with a simple green salad or a soup.
Prep time: 45 mins
Cooking time: 30 minutes
What you'll need
- 8 slices - Bread
- 50 g - Butter
- 50 g - Flour
- 1/2 litre - Milk
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
- 4 to 8 slices - Parisian ham (cooked Ham)
- 100 g - Gruyère or Comté cheese
How to do it
- Preheat your oven to 400° F.
- Create a roux by melting the butter in a pot. Once bubbling, ad the flour and mix together into a paste. Cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat to get rid of the raw flour taste.
- At the same time, boil the milk on the side.
- Once the milk is ready, slowly pour it into the roux while whisking over medium heat. Start with a bit and whisk, then gradually add the rest. Whisk often.
- After 10 minutes, the sauce should be smooth and thick. Your béchamel is ready! Set aside.
- To build the sandwich, spread about 1/4 cup béchamel sauce on one side of bread and add slices of the ham.
- Add the second slice of bread and spoon on a second 1/4 cup of béchamel.
- Close the deal by grading the cheese on top.
- Bake for 5 minutes or until you get a nice golden colour on the cheese.
The secret for a good Croque Monsieur is to use the highest quality bread, ham and cheese. For a classic Croque Madame, simply add a fried egg on top, sunny side up. It’s a perfect brunch.
Wine pairing with Croque Monsieur
By Alanna McIntyre, Bishop's Cellar
The sommelier suggests
Alanna McIntyre is a Sommelier at Bishop's Cellar. Visit their great location and follow them on Twitter.
Croque Monsieur is the ultimate ham and cheese sandwich. Leave it to the French to take a few simple, yet high quality ingredients, and turn them into a classy little bistro favourite. Croque Monsieur is perfect for a leisurely Sunday brunch, but it is also a quick and easy option for a weeknight supper when served with an abundant green salad.
The nature of this dish; lightly salty ham, rich cheese and the key ingredient - a creamy, mouth coating béchamel, has my taste buds craving something sparkling. A light bubbly is a wine that can fully be enjoyed before noon if you are having this as brunch. Though the dish is intensely flavoured, it is not heavy and really needs something light and fresh to cut through the richness of the cheese and cleanse the palate. Plus, sparkling wine just seems to fit with my idea of French food culture; food that is at once elegant, simple and delicious! Oh, how I would love to be in Paris right now sipping a glass of Crémant in a cafe… Until then, I will have to make this dish at home and pick up sparkling wine to go with it. Seeing as Croque Monsieur is pretty economical, I feel fine by splurging a bit on the wine. My first choice is without a doubt true French Champagne. I really like Le Mesnil Blancs de Blancs at $59. This is a small grower’s Champagne (not from a big brand Champagne house) that has a great nose, delicious aromas of fresh baked brioche and apple crisp, a mouth filling texture and persistent mousse. If Champagne is not your thing, try Prevedello Asolo Prosecco - $20, it is lighter, with a softer mouthfeel and more fruit, or a clean and zesty, lightly leesy Spanish Cava like Segura Viudas Brut $18. Pop the cork and enjoy!
The Cheese course
Mimolette is easily one of the most popular cheeses at the shop and always a conversation starter. It always catches the eye. In France it's called Boule de Lille or Vieux Hollande in Holland. Typically it's sold in two varieties, a younger, softer cheese, and the much firmer, oilier and richer aged version which is what we carry. Both are great but the real character and strength shines through in the crumbly 2 year old version. Mimolette is amazing by itself or in an omelette or gratin.
Photo: Murray's Cheese
From: Lille, France
Type: Pasteurized cow’s milk, natural rind
Fat content: 40%
Aged: 2 months - 2 years
Taste: Buttery, salty and very nutty flavour
Accompaniments: Merlot and Sherry.
General Cheese care
So you've just purchased a lovely piece of Mimolette, Roquefort and Brillat Savarin and are wondering how to best store them. The most important thing to remember is cheese is a living thing and needs to breathe and a high level of humidity. Since you cannot realistically provide either in your fridge, the best thing to do is keep hard cheeses, like Mimolette for example, wrapped well in plastic or ziploc bag. For soft cheeses like Roquefort or Brillat Savarin, proceed as follows. Keep them in the wax paper the cheese came in, then either eat it in 24 hours or poke holes in a ziploc container, place a wet paper towel/small wet rag in one corner, and place in the veggie drawer in your fridge, where humidity is the highest. Enjoy!
The Gottingen Street Community
By Ceilidh Sutherland and Dan Vorstermans
There's been a lot of talk about Gottingen Street lately. Two out of three conversations about the street contain the phrase “up-and-coming” or the word “revitalize”. But something that really stands out on this street is the sense of community. There are brand new businesses and there are businesses that have been here for decades. There are families that have recently moved to the area, and there are people who still live in the house they were born in, 60 years ago. It is, in every sense of the word, an incredibly diverse neighbourhood. Those of us who are able to live and/or work here should count our blessings every day.
Where else in Halifax – or in any other city for that matter – can you walk for a few blocks and find so many small, independent businesses offering such an incredible variety of products and services? You can stand in one spot and see a microbrewery, a barbershop, a couple restaurants, a tailor, a few social service organizations, an MP's office, a few cafes, a charcuterie, a merchants cooperative, a comic book store, a soon-to-open coop grocery store... Diversity is what makes neighbourhoods livable, and what makes them great.
Gottingen Street has had its ups and downs, its booms and busts, its time as a main street and its time as a stigmatized street. Right now there's an opportunity to continue to make it an awesome place to work, live and spend time. We're all lucky to be a part of this change, but we need to take this challenge seriously - to make this a more inclusive, more livable and more incredible place to be..
We do enjoy tormenting our neighbours at Field Guide here and there, especially Dan. But truthfully, Ceilidh Sutherland and Dan Vorstermans are a solid pair who run a fine establishment alongside a great team. Please check out their food and beverages Wednesdays through Mondays and talk to them digitally on Twitter.
Happening at Ratinaud
By Tom Crilley
On Friday March 21st, Fred will be heading north to Wolfville to cook side by side with David Smart and the Front & Central crew. Together they will be revisiting classic French Cuisine, but with a modern twist. Check out the menu:
Snails, jambon de pays, garlic powder, parsley oil
New Generation Bouillabaisse
Mussels, little neck clams, Halibut, toasted bread, rouille, micro basil, broth foam
Beef Bourguignon Revisited
Braised beef cheeks, pancetta, mushroom, caramelized onion purée,
glazed carrots, pomme allumette, jus
Selection of French cheeses
Paris-Brest, caramelized almond
It's an evening not to be missed! Tickets can be purchased here.
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