Tallahassee Foodies Pro Feature – Welcome to our very first edition of “Tallahassee Foodies Pro Feature”. Once a week, I’ll be inviting a local expert in our community as our guest to share a little bit about what they do so well! Today, we have (local celeb) certified Chef Nikki Pettineo of the popular YouTube channel Nikki Talks Food. You’ve probably already heard me chat about her quite a bit while raving about her educational, yet so fun Brown’s Cooking Classes, or from my review of her next level Pro Seasoning. I’ll let Nikki take it from here…
Picture this: You’re about to have lunch, you order a sandwich, and you are given a knife and fork to eat that sandwich. What? If you need a knife and fork to eat a sandwich, what does that say to you? To me, it signals to my brain “Oh my dear food Gods, someone has made a sandwich so rich yet complex that in order for me to tuck into this beast…I need tools”.
Few sandwiches on this earth require a knife and fork AND a salad to accompany it’s buttery, cheesy goodness. But there’s one in particular that if it appears on a menu, I have to have it. I’m talking of course about the Croque Monsieur. “Mister Crunch”, if you wish to translate its name to English. Born in France and featured on most French Bistro menus, the Croque Monsieur consists of buttery pain de mie bread, savory country ham, a dab of Dijon mustard, Gruyere or Comte cheese, and last but not least, Bechamel sauce. Think of it as a perfectly toasted ham and cheese sandwich topped with mac and cheese sauce and then broiled to a bubbly golden brown.
The Croque Monsieur is typically served with pommes frites (French fries) and or a small salad with vinaigrette. If you’re feeling cheeky, you can add a poached or fried egg on top of the sandwich, thereby creating the Croque Madame, tres fancy! So next time you’re looking to shake up your daily lunch routine, why not bring a little taste of Parisian culture right to your very own kitchen!
- 8 slices bread pain de mie, brioche, or thick white bread
- 1 lb pound deli ham
- 4 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 8 oz Gruyere cheese grated
- butter for buttering
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk
- salt and pepper, or Pro Seasoning to taste
- Turn your oven broiler on high. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter, then add the flour and stir with a whisk to form a paste (roux). Cook the rough until you smell a nutty fragrance.
- Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, continuously stirring. This should take about 2-3 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper or Pro Seasoning to taste. Set the sauce aside.
- Next, heat a skillet or griddle to medium heat. Butter the bread on one side, and spread mustard on the other (mustard is optional as not everyone loves it). Make 4 piles of ham on the skillet and top with cheese. Make sure to save some cheese to top the sandwich with. This will give you a head start to ensure the center of your sandwich is nice and gooey. Heat the ham and cheese until the cheese is melted. Using a spatula, lift the ham and cheese out of the pan and set aside on a plate.
- Next, place the buttered side of the bread down in the skillet or griddle. Toast the bread until golden brown and add the ham and melted cheese. Close the sandwiches and remove from heat. Top the sandwiches with the Bechamel sauce and remaining shredded Gruyere. Place sandwiches on a sheet tray or oven safe skillet and broil the top of the sandwich. When you achieve a golden brown bubbly crust, serve.