When I was in high school, there was four languages offered: German, Latin, Spanish, and French.
I had always been enamoured with the French lifestyle, so it was an easy choice for me.
Unfortunately, the French language didn't exactly embrace me. After four years, I could barely say bonjour properly. My Grade 9 year was spent with a substitute second week in after my teacher fell through his deck, broke his neck and was out the entire year. My Grade 10 and 11th French teacher was a transplant from Versailles, so her expectation was higher than I was willing to work. She also spoke very fast and implemented "No Anglaise" while in class. I can't tell you how many times I almost wet myself because I couldn't remember how to say bathroom in French. My Grade 12 teacher went to school with my Dad. It turns out she had a crush on him, but he didn't feel the same. A 30 year grudge made my senior year a super fun one.
Despite all of this, I managed to pass by the skin of my teeth. Even though I couldn't carry on a conversation, let alone speak a full sentence in French, I still had a strong desire to visit the City of Lights.
I finally had my chance when my husband and I went on a small European holiday in 2006. We touched down in Paris and I made a beeline for the first boulangerie I could find. It was better than I imagined. Baguettes, breads, pastries, and a croque monsieur.
Ah. The beloved croque monsieur. If you've never had the pleasure of enjoying one, a croque monsieur is the best grilled ham and cheese sandwich you could ever wish to consume. Gooey béchamel sauce and swiss cheese layered with ham slices. Not one to conform, I've upped the ante and added crispy mushrooms and a fried egg to make it a mushroom croque madame. I think the mushrooms totally make this sandwich.
In fact, will have you saying, Oui! Oui!
Mushrooms Croque Madame
Recipe makes 1 generous sandwich | Béchamel Sauce makes 2 sandwiches
Prep Time: 20 minutes | Bake Time: 5 minutes
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon each salt and white pepper
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add in flour and whisk together. Cook mixture for two minutes, whisking constantly. Flour and butter will begin to bubble up and become "fluffy" in appearance. Very slowly add in milk, whisking until mixture is smooth. It's very important you do not add milk in all at once or too quickly or you'll end up with a lumpy sauce. Once milk has been incorporated, cook for four minutes, whisking constantly. Sauce will be very thick and elastic-like, but should be very smooth. Whisk in mustard, nutmeg, and salt.
This sauce can be made a day ahead. If you choose to do so, place in a container and cover with plastic wrap directly on top to avoid creating a film or skin. Keep refrigerated.
2 slices soft bread, challah or brioche is preferred
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature and divided
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
4 slices deli-style ham
2 slices swiss cheese
1 egg, fried
In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt one tablespoon of butter. Place sliced mushrooms in a single layer and cook until edges become crispy and golden brown. Remove skillet from heat.
Preheat oven broiler to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Butter each bread slice on one side and place butter side down on baking sheet. Spread a generous amount of béchamel sauce over entire top surface and edges of bread slices. Place baking sheet in oven and bake until sauce begins to bubble. Remove from oven.
Top one slice of bread with one slice of swiss cheese, ham slices and 1/2 cup cooked mushrooms. Top with remaining slice of bread, béchamel side up. Place a second slice of swiss cheese on top and remaining mushrooms. Place back under heat until cheese is fully melted and bubbly. Once melted, remove from oven and top with a fried egg.
Note: You may choose to omit the egg for a Croque Monsieur.
If you've experienced the bakeshops of Paris, or simply want to savour everything the city has to offer, this sandwich is for you!! A big thank you, as always, the Jenny for sharing an inspired recipe idea.
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