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History of Croque Monsieur


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The French name Croque Monsieur translates to  “Crisp Mister” and is basically a cooked cheese and ham sandwich, traditionally made with gruyere cheese and thinly sliced ham.  The name is sometimes shortened to Croque.



The First Croque Monsieur


The first Croque Monsieur was simply a hot ham and cheese sandwich which was fried in butter - one step further than what some believe was the original which was accidentally created when French workers left the tins containing their lunches of  sandwiches on  hot radiators  whilst they worked.  By the time they came to eat them, the heat of the radiators had melted the cheese.


It's not known who had the idea of embellishing the recipe by frying the sandwich until crisp and golden,  however they first  appeared on menus in Parisian cafés in 1910, and the earliest written reference is thought to have been by the novelist Proust  in his 1918 work titled  À la recherche du temps perdu  (In search of lost time).



Today's Croque Monsieur


Over the years, further changes were made to the basic recipe, in particular the addition of mustard and a béchamel sauce. Whilst this complicated an otherwise simple recipe, versions made this way are sumptuous and relatively filling  and well worth the extra attention. 


Then came the variations including:-


The addition of a fried egg served on top - a Croque Madame

The addition of tomatoes - a Croque Provençal

The substitution of  blue cheese for Gruyere - a Croque Auvergnat

The substitution of smoked salmon for the ham - a Croque Norvégien


Croque Monsieur Recipes


Below is a recipe for a full blown version of a Croque Monsieur which is fabulous for lunch served with French fries and a dressed salad.


A more simple version would be to make a cheese and ham sandwich in the usual way, then fry in butter until crisp and golden on both sides.  Alternatively, spread the outside on your sandwich with plenty of butter and cook under a very hot grill until well browned on both sides.


Croque Monsieur Recipe   HT  MC  French  20mins

Serves 4      Hot  Pork  Lunch  Main Course 

8 slices Sandwich Bread

2 tbsp Dijon mustard
8 thin slices of Ham
176g/6oz Gruyere cheese, grated
2 tbsp Butter, softened

120ml/4fl.oz. COLD Bechamel or Thick White Sauce


1. Preheat the grill to hot.  Spread 4 slices of bread with the mustard then top each with a slice of ham.


2. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the cheese and divide the remaining cheese between the ham topped slices of bread, sprinkling it evenly over the ham.


3. Place the 4 remaining sliced of ham on the cheese and top with the remaining 4 slices of bread to make a sandwich.

4. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet, butter the top slices with the butter then grill for 4- 5 minutes until well browned and crisp.


5.  Turn them over, and grill for a further 3-4 minutes until well toasted .


6.  Remove from the grill, turn them over again then spread the top of each with the cold béchamel sauce, sprinkle with the reserved cheese, place back under the very hot grill  and cook until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.

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