the world's finest sandwich
This is one of the tastiest snack meals that I know. For
many years as I travelled into France, I would turn off from the early morning
ferry into the town of Falaise, and stop there for a breakfast of Croque
Monsieur at a town centre café; it was the most welcoming meal with which to
start the day. I later learned that if you put a fried egg on top, it's called
a Croque Madame.
2 large slices good-quality white bread, generously
2-4 oz (50-100 gm) Gruyère, finely grated
2-3 slices smoked cooked ham, Parma ham or
½ oz (10 g) butter, melted
1 level dessertspoon finely grated Parmesan
salt and freshly milled black pepper
Use Emmental rather than Gruyère; it's cheaper
Use a French Parmesan equivalent, like Mimolette
Leave off the Parmesan and use more Gruyère instead.
On one slice of the buttered bread, spread half
the grated Gruyère, then cover that with the slices of ham, folding them if
need be to fit the size of the bread.
Sprinkle the rest of the Gruyère on top of the
ham, season, then press the other slice of bread on top of that and press it
down very firmly...cut off the crusts if you prefer – the French usually do,
and the gastronomic 'bible' – Larousse – insists you must.
Melt the butter over a medium heat in a large
frying pan, large enough to take the prepared croques...or do them in batches.
Transfer the croques to the pan and sauté in the
melted butter for about 4 minutes until golden brown (but check after a couple
of minutes to ensure that nothing is burning).
When it's golden brown, turn it over, and repeat
You can serve them at this point, but for an additional kick
Sprinkle the grated Parmesan over one side of the
croques, and put under a grill until the Parmesan melts.
Remove from the grill, and eat while still