Let us be clear: the much appreciated Croque Monsieur so well known in France and overseas is, indeed, a slight cut above the standard it emulates which is–the lowly ham and cheese sandwich.

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Much like the vaunted cassoulet (otherwise known as pork and beans), this simple dish is…elevated not only by its…Frenchiness but by a few simple tricks.

To begin with, the French, even that guy on the street over there, wants to use the best ingredients he can find. So this means maybe Black Forest ham or maybe a better cut of prosciutto or jamon Serrano. Then…a good cheese. Typically this is gruyere, Comte, Emmentaler rather than a more mundane slice of…say domestic Swiss cheese or a dumbass cheddar with as much character as velveeta.

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So tonight, the first thing I did was heat up the oven broiler. I cut three small rolls in half and laid a heavy slather of Dijon mustard. Breaking slightly with tradition, I laid in some sliced pickled onion (home made, natch) above, one slice each of some good quality ham (Black Forest ham in this case) and above that, a thin slice of gruyere.

Following this I mixed a tablespoon of butter and flour with a splash of nutmeg, a bit of milk, and a couple three tablespoons of gruyere. This is the melted Bechamel sauce which I then lay over each little slider sandwich. This all got popped into the broiler for about two minutes where it melted and spread nicely. Pulled them out, topped them with the other piece of the roll/slider, put them on plates with a glass of wine.

Of course, I could have gotten some white bread, a piece of provolone, and a slice of processed ham with a slather of French’s mustard, but…camaaahn! What fun is that?

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