Croque Monsieur #CookforJulia #SundaySupper

by Anne Papina on August 4, 2012

Croque Monseiur | Webicurean

“The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit.” -Julia Child

Leave it to the French to take a pedestrian grilled ham and cheese and elevate it to something, well, so decidedly decadent. I was nearly giddy with delight as I sampled my creation(s), or properly, Julia Child’s creation. While many variations are floating about, I picked this version from my 1977 edition of From Julia Child’s Kitchen. This dish is all about simplicity and fresh ingredients.

CookforJulia Logo

Of course, Julia had a way of making even the most complicated French dishes accessible to the home cook, yet she had an equal love for ordinary fare. She was quite literally a legend in her own time, and what better way to honor her memory than by preparing one of her favorite dishes, Croque Monsieur. August 15 would have been her 100th birthday, so her publisher, Knopf (#JC100), along with PBS (#CookforJulia) and food bloggers around the world (#SundaySupper) are celebrating. Why not join in the fun?

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” -Julia Child

According to the The Oxford Companion to Food, Croque Monsieur literally means “crunch-sir” or “munch-sir,” but its origins are not clear. This popular French snack first appeared on French menus in the early 20th century. Its sibling, the Croque Madame, is a more recent invention, with the addition of chicken, or a fried egg on top. While I tend to believe everything tastes better when topped with a fried egg, I’m a purest at heart. Well, almost. Traditionally, the sandwich should be made with Emmentaler or Gruyère, but Julia recommended fresh Mozzarella  because its “softer consistency blends more meltingly with the ham, the butter, and the bread.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

“Life itself is the proper binge.” -Julia Child

This binge spanned a good four days as hubby and I sampled a variety of cheeses and hams. (These sandwiches are so rich, you really can’t eat more than one per day.) There was no clear winner–sandwich or waistline–but if I must choose, I’d pick the fresh Mozzarella with rosemary ham with only a slight edge over the Emmentaler with Black Forest ham. Both were sandwiched between slices of fresh “famous bake house white” from Safeway’s bakery, which was surprisingly irresistible on its own.

So grab a stick of butter, some bread, ham, and cheese, and let’s begin!

Clarified Butter

First, we must clarify the butter, which simply means melting butter then skimming off the milk solids. This gives the butter a higher smoke point and will prevent it from browning/burning when sautéing the sandwiches.

Mozzarella

Next we need to line up our ingredients–bread with crusts trimmed, slices of cheese and ham. As you can see, I had a hard time getting “thin” slices of the Mozzarella. Oh well.

Croque Monsieur

Before assembling, brush the bread with clarified butter. Then layer the cheese, the ham, and the cheese. Yep, I said cheese twice.

Croque Monsieur

Then slowly sauté in clarified butter until golden melty goodness. I know, that makes no sense, but you get the picture.

Croque Monsieur

And enjoy with your favorite salad and a glass of wine! Or, cut into bite sized pieces and serve as an appetizer. Either way, it’s sure to be a hit.

Here’s the easy print version:

5.0 from 3 reviews
Croque Monsieur
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
"Here is the plain version, with its delicious primal taste of ham, cheese, and bread all browned leisurely in the best butter." -Julia Child
Author:
Recipe type: Sandwich
Cuisine: French
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 thin slices (1/4 inch thick) fresh white sandwich bread of best homemade-type quality, such as Pain de Mie
  • 2 to 3 tbsp clarified butter (butter melted, skimmed, the clear liquid poured off the milky residue--have a small saucepan of it for several sandwiches)
  • 2 thin slices (1/8 inch thick) Mozzarella cheese or rather soft Swiss
  • 1 thin slice (1/8 inch thick) cooked ham, the dimensions of the bread
Instructions
  1. For each sandwich, lay a slice of bread on your work surface, brush it with clarified butter, cover with a slice of cheese, a slice of ham, another slice of cheese, then brush one side of the second slice of bread with butter, and lay it buttered side down on top of the sandwich.
  2. Now press the sandwich together firmly, leaning on it with the palm of your hand.
  3. Trim off crusts, and press down again on sandwich.
  4. Film a frying pan with ⅛ inch of the clarified butter, heat to bubbling, and brown the sandwiches rather slowly (2 to 3 minutes) on each side, so the cheese will melt; add more butter as needed.
  5. For appetizers, cut the sandwiches into quarters or eighths.
Notes
If done ahead, arrange on a baking sheet and set aside, covered with plastic wrap. Uncover and heat in a 375-degree oven 5 minutes or so before serving.

 

If you’d like to see Julia Child and Jacques Pepin making both Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame (as well as some other sandwiches), here’s the full PBS episode: Julia and Jacques making Croque Monsieur and Madame

Join in this week’s #SundaySupper festivities, starting with the recipes below and ending with a live chat beginning at 7:00 p.m. EDT, hashtag #SundaySupper on Twitter.

#CookForJulia Breakfast
Râpée Morvandelle by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Croissants by Cookistry
Cheese and Bacon Quiche by Tora’s Real Food

#CookForJulia Lunch
Tuna Salad Nicoise by Magnolia Days
Blood Orange, Walnut, and Rocket Salad by Granny’s Down Home Southern Cooking
Croque Monsieur by Webicurean
Spinach and Cream Cheese Pancakes by Happy Baking Days 
Julia’s Chicken Salad by My Trials in the Kitchen
Pissaladière Niçoise (Onion Tart with Anchovies and Black Olives) by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Provencal Tomato Quiche by Are you hungry?
Quiche Lorraine by Spoon and Saucer
Potato and Onion Soup (Potage Parmentier) by Shockingly Delicious

#CookForJulia Dinner
Bouillabaisse by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
Boeuf Bourguignon by Chelsea’s Culinary Indulgence
Orecchiette Con Broccoli Di Rape and Sausages by Doggie at the Dinner Table
Boeuf Bourguignon by Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks
Veal Stew with Onions and Mushrooms with Baked Cucumbers and Boiled Potatoes (Blanquette de veau a l’ancienne with concombres au buerre) by Kimchi Mom
Salmon en Papillote by Girlichef
Poached salmon with cucumber sauce by Katherine Martinelli
Lobster Souffle and Deviled Chicken by Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends
Roasted Chicken with Julia’s Mustard Marinade by The Meltaways
Wild Mushroom and Herb Stuffed Chicken by Mama Mommy Mom
Puree of White Beans with Garlic and Herbs (Brandade á la Soissonaise) Avocado Pesto
Poulet au Porto by Family Foodie

#CookForJulia Sides
Hollondaise over Blanched Asparagus by The Little Ferraro Kitchen
Scalloped Potatoes with Milk, Cheese, and Garlic (Gratin Dauphinois) by Home Cooking Memories
Ratatouille by Basic N Delicious
French-style country pate by There and Back Again
White Bean Dip with Homemade Tortilla Chips Momma’s Meals
Oeufs à la Diable by What Smells So Good?
Soubise by The Weekend Gourmet
Ratatouille by Cupcakes and Kale Chips

#CookForJulia Desserts
Cream Cheese and Lemon Flan by Juanita’s Cocina
Strawberry Sherbert in Cooky Cups by Cravings of a Lunatic
Creme Brulee by Wine Everyday
Mousseline Au Chocolat by Small Wallet Big Appetite
Peach Tarte Tatin by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Cinnamon Toast Flan by Vintage Kitchen Notes
Dark Chocolate Crepes by Family Spice
Crepes Fines Sucrees by Mangoes and Chutney
Pommes Rosemarie:Apples Rosie by The Daily Dish Recipes
Espresso Soufflé by Chocolate Moosey
Best Ever Brownies by In the Kitchen with Audrey
Orange-Almond Jelly Roll Cake by Mrs. Mama Hen
Orange Spongecake Cupcakes by Mama’s Blissful Bites
Orange Mousse with Greek Yogurt by Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
Frozen Chocolate Mousse by Big Bear’s Wife

Wine Pairings: Relishing Food and Wine; Thanks to Julia Child! by ENOFYLZ

Note: I earn a modest referral/commission for Amazon.com links within the article.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Hezzi-D August 5, 2012 at 5:06 am

I have always loved this sandwich. The gooey cheese with the pan fried bread-YUM! Yours look delicious.

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Anne Papina August 5, 2012 at 10:44 am

Thanks!

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Renee August 5, 2012 at 5:25 am

Sometimes a simple sandwich is all you need for a fantastic meal. This is one of those sandwiches. Yum!
Renee recently posted..Tuna Salad Nicoise #CookForJulia #SundaySupperMy Profile

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Anne Papina August 5, 2012 at 10:45 am

Thanks–I’m still marveling over your beautiful salad!

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Cindys Recipes August 5, 2012 at 5:31 am

Anne, you make grilled ham and cheese look so special!
Cindys Recipes recently posted..Râpée Morvandelle #SundaySupper #CookForJuliaMy Profile

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Anne Papina August 5, 2012 at 10:46 am

Thanks–I try! :)

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Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes August 5, 2012 at 6:32 am

A simple yet decadent sandwich! Great lunch with the salad you paired it with. Nice step-by-step pics!
Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes recently posted..Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding #SundaySupper #CookForJuliaMy Profile

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Anne Papina August 5, 2012 at 10:51 am

Thanks! You know, I’ve been craving Israeli salad lately, so I tossed one up with what I had on hand!

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Jen @JuanitasCocina August 5, 2012 at 6:46 am

Oh it makes perfect sense! And it looks perfectly delicious!
Jen @JuanitasCocina recently posted..Cream Cheese and Lemon Flan ~ #CookForJulia #SundaySupperMy Profile

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Heather @girlichef August 5, 2012 at 6:54 am

This is absolutely one of my favorite sandwiches in the world! I wish I could reach in and grab one for myself. Lovely write-up!
Heather @girlichef recently posted..Salmon en Papillote #CookforJulia #SundaySupperMy Profile

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Anne Papina August 5, 2012 at 10:52 am

lol thanks I think I ate too many during the writing of this article!

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CJ at Food Stories August 5, 2012 at 7:32 am

This looks amazing … Happy Sunday :-)
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Tammi August 5, 2012 at 7:36 am

This looks to die for! You are so right, leave it to the french to turn an ordinary sandwich into something so delish looking!! Happy #SundaySupper

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Laura @ Family Spice August 5, 2012 at 8:22 am

I know what you mean about French cooking. What a fabulous and decadent sandwich!
Laura @ Family Spice recently posted..Dark Chocolate Crêpes with Blueberry Cream for #SundaySupper #CookforJuliaMy Profile

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Samantha @ FerraroKitchen August 5, 2012 at 9:15 am

This is one of my fav dishes! I’ve had it Madame version and they are both fabulous! Thank you so much for cooking in this #SS :)

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Anne Papina August 6, 2012 at 9:07 am

I ate so many of these, I’m almost afraid to try the Madame!

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Family Foodie August 5, 2012 at 9:36 am

You made this sandwich look absolutely amazing! I am so glad you are part of #SundaySupper and love your recipes and inspiration.

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Anne Papina August 6, 2012 at 9:08 am

Thanks for including me in the group–I’m thoroughly enjoying participating!

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Chelsea August 5, 2012 at 9:52 am

Ooo I love all of these flavors! So yummy!
Chelsea recently posted..Boeuf Bourguignon #SundaySupper #CookForJuliaMy Profile

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Sarah August 5, 2012 at 9:57 am

WOW! Your toast is browned so nicely ( I always burn toast). Love the accompaniment of the cucumber and tomato salad.

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Anne Papina August 5, 2012 at 10:54 am

thanks you know I think it really helped using the clarified butter because a lot of times the butter browns on you too fast and makes the bread burn a bit

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Sarah August 5, 2012 at 10:29 am

These were a favourite of mine and Dad’s growing up – we never did the “sliced cheese” thing!
Sarah recently posted..#CookingForJulia with Oeufs à la Diable #SundaySupperMy Profile

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Anne Papina August 5, 2012 at 10:57 am

ha well I thought I’d cheat a little as TJs had a log of presliced fresh mozzarella–but the slices still needed slicing as they were too thick as cut!

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Amy Kim August 5, 2012 at 10:31 am

Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame are my favorite French sandwiches and often order one of them if I’m at a bistro.

Looks great and I love your mozzarella twist on the classic!
Amy Kim recently posted..Blanquette de veau a l’ancienne #SundaySupper #CookforJuliaMy Profile

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redkathy August 5, 2012 at 10:44 am

OMG can you say rich and yummy!! Guess what, hubby requested grilled ham and cheese for dinner last night, no joke. Your AMAZING display tells me without doubt, he would totally flip over this sandwich.

Julia Child + Anne = Culinary Genius :)
Happy Sunday to you and yours!
redkathy recently posted..Provencal Tomato Quiche #SundaySupper Honors #CookforJuliaMy Profile

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Anne Papina August 5, 2012 at 10:55 am

thanks! you know the mozzarella made the whole thing so buttery (and helped cut the saltiness of the ham)

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Renee August 5, 2012 at 11:30 am

omigosh that looks so good and I am sooo hungry! Not only that, but dangerously enough, I have turkey and all the ingredients for one of these in my fridge right now! There went my diet. lol nice job, a really great post. :)
Renee recently posted..Julia Child’s Kunming Connection #Sundaysupper #CookingwithJuliaMy Profile

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Lane @ Supper for a Steal August 5, 2012 at 11:52 am

Love the use of mozzarella cheese. Can I crawl through the screen and have a bite?
Lane @ Supper for a Steal recently posted..Guest Post – The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen: Quinoa Tabbouleh SaladMy Profile

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Brandie (@ Home Cooking Memories) August 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Just so amazing! I would love to have one of these right now!!
Brandie (@ Home Cooking Memories) recently posted..Scalloped Potatoes (Gratin Dauphinois) #CookForJulia #SundaySupperMy Profile

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Tora Estep August 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Gooey, buttery ham and cheese. Can’t get much better than that.
Tora Estep recently posted..Bacon and Cheese Quiche for #SundaySupper and #CookForJuliaMy Profile

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Anne Papina August 6, 2012 at 9:09 am

I know, right?

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Linda @ There and Back Again August 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Okay, now I’m hungry! I love grilled cheese sandwiches made just about any way. I’ll have to try this one!
Linda @ There and Back Again recently posted..#CookForJulia French-Style Country Pâté for #SundaySupperMy Profile

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Brandie @ Spoon & Saucer August 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm

What’s not to love about grilled cheese with ham, sauteed in butter. I also love your side salad!
Brandie @ Spoon & Saucer recently posted..Quiche Lorraine or “Cream & Bacon Quiche” (#CookForJulia #SundaySupper)My Profile

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Kim Bee August 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm

This is fabulous. I adore the fact that this is an elevated ham and cheese. Makes me grin. I must try this.
Kim Bee recently posted..Strawberry Sherbert in Cooky Cups #cookforjulia #sundaysupperMy Profile

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sunithi August 5, 2012 at 6:47 pm

OMG ! This is a gourmet Ham & Cheese sandwich !! Yumm ! Will be making this sometime :)
sunithi recently posted..Orange Mousse With Greek Yogurt #CookForJulia #SundaySupperMy Profile

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The Wimpy Vegetarian August 5, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I love your writeup for this week’s #SundaySupper, and really enjoyed reading the quotes you shared with us. Thanks :-) And what’s not to love about Croque Monsieur!
The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..#SundaySupper #CookForJulia: Pissaladiére Niçoise – Vegetarian StyleMy Profile

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Angie @ Big Bear's Wife August 6, 2012 at 9:20 am

I’m thinking that this would be perfect for dinner tonight
Angie @ Big Bear’s Wife recently posted..Frozen Chocolate Mousse #SundaySupper #CookingForJuliaMy Profile

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Jamie (Mama.Mommy.Mom) August 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Grilled cheese is so versatile! Yummy, gooey deliciousness!

Jamie @ http://www.mamamommymom.com
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Nami | Just One Cookbook August 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I love that you are not shy about butter. :) This simple meal will definitely satisfy me. Mozzarella cheese coming out of side of sandwich is irresistible! :D
Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted..Smoked Baby Back RibsMy Profile

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Anne Papina August 7, 2012 at 7:14 am

I know, I was pretty liberal with the butter on this sandwich!

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