Blog Archive

Saturday, October 9, 2010

American Classics Go French...and a Recipe!

American Classics Go French...and a Recipe!
by Victoria Challancin

Classic recipes are classic for a reason:  they are good, they are comforting, they are enjoyed by large numbers of people.  And...they get re-invented as they cross borders.  Did you think that Chef's Salad, Club Sandwiches, and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches were purely American?  Think again!  

A Chef's Salad gets a French touch with a classic French Mustard Vinaigrette--no Ranch, Thousand Island, or Blue Cheese in sight.  Want to know what is waiting in the box?  Scroll to the end of this post.

A Club Sandwich with French charcuterie (cured pork products and this time with a bit of turkey as well)

The same croque monsieur, or open faced grilled ham and cheese sandwich we saw in my last post.  Scroll down for a a recipe.

What is in the box?  A classic French Mont Blanc pastry from Angelina on rue de Rivoli, filled with chestnut cream, needing no re-interpretation...

Instead of providing you with a slap-dash version of how I make a Croque Monsieur with no real recipe, I offer instead this accurate version from Williams-Sonoma's website from Pastis restaurant in NYC.  Note:  Sometimes I make this with prosciutto or jamón serrano, just for added decadence.

Open-Faced Croque-Monsieur Sandwich
Recipe from Williams-Sonoma


For the béchamel:

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

For the sandwiches:

  • 1-lb. loaf country-style bread, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. sliced ham
  • 1/2 lb. grated Gruyère cheese (Emmental works well here also)


Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 450°F.

To make the béchamel, in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until smooth and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture smells nutty and fragrant, about 1 minute. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth and lump-free. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Increase the heat to medium, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

To assemble the sandwiches, lightly butter a baking sheet. Place the bread slices on the sheet and layer the ham evenly on the bread. For each sandwich, spread 1 to 2 Tbs. of the béchamel over the ham, or as desired. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the béchamel. Bake until the cheese melts and evenly browns, and the bread is golden and crisp on the bottom, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.

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