Thursday, April 23, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers - Croque Monsieur, as Ina never imagined it

You know how sometimes you improvise a dish and it works well, or you go overboard and your mouth says "Huh?" when you eat it? I was definitely in danger of the latter this week with Kathy's (of All Food Considered) pick, Croque Monsieur, from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris cookbook. We don't eat ham, so that one was definitely out. No dijon mustard. White bread? Boring! So I went in a completely
different direction. Ina may sue, or I may be thrown out of Barefoot Bloggers, it's that different.

I started at Whole Foods, because I needed bread and cheese for the sandwich. I sometimes find Gruyere cheese to be too strongly flavored, so I decided I would mix Ementhaller and Gruyere. I happened upon a loaf of apple cinnamon bread and I just had to use it for the sandwich. Cheese and fruit are such a classic combination.

At home, I knew I had a package of sliced turkey breast and a jar of mustard, so I was all set. I grated the cheeses, warmed the milk, made the roux, added the milk and a bunch of the cheese and found it to result in a very odd mound of what I imagined was supposed to be a sauce. Hmm... Turns out I added too much of the cheese. Oops.

Since the oven took too long to warm up, I toasted the bread in the toaster, transfered it to the sheet pan, spread the bottom slice with sweet and spicy mustard, grabbed the package of turkey and only then noticed my sliced turkey breast was really pastrami. Yes, turkey pastrami.
It was too late to turn back. I had a mound of "sauce" in the pan, too many graters, dishes and pans already dirty and I was hungry, so there was no turning back. I assembled the sandwich and mounded the "sauce" on the top, precariously balancing the remaining grated cheese on the top, and popped it into the oven. After just two minutes, the mound of "sauce" became a dripping, oozy, cheesy coating of love on my sandwich, which I then browned under the broiler. I did regret not lining the sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat as the cheese laminated to the pan, but that's a problem for later. I dug into the sandwich with knife and fork, and was greeted with an explosion of flavors. The smokiness of the turkey pastrami and the nuttiness of the cheese was perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the apple cinnamon bread and the spicy sweet mustard. I can't imagine it could get better than this. Sometimes turning a recipe upside down is a mistake, but this time it was delicious.

For other crazy innovators, I present Croque Monsieur (as adapted from Ina Garten).
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup hot milk
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch nutmeg
3 ounces Gruyere, grated (1 1/4 cups)
3 ounces Ementhaller, grated (1 1/4 cups)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
8 slices apple cinnamon (or cinnamon raisin) bread, crusts removed
Sweet & spicy mustard (I get mine at Trader Joe's)
4 ounces turkey pastrami

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/4 cup of the Gruyere and Ementhaller mixture, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted. Or you can use a toaster as I did.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of turkey pastrami to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining cheese. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.


Babette said...

I cringed at first about the sweet bread then jumped in feet first with you--your diversion is really worth a try! Good rescue with the sauce, the pastrami, the entire croque!

Anne said...

I love the substitutions you made and that it worked out great- that's why I love Ina's recipes, they always work out!

chocolatechic said...

oooOOooooo that bread just sounds fantastic with this sandwich!

Peggy said...

Oh I think yours sounds fabulous. I think the bread would be great with ham as well. Good job!!

n.o.e said...

Oooh, I agree about the fruit + cheese. You had such a good combo of sweet and savory going on in this dinner. I think I might have panicked about the sauce, but look how it all came together!

Anonymous said...

Cool! I'm glad it all worked out for you. I love all that melty cheese.

Teanna DiMicco said...

Sometimes turning a recipe upside down is the perfect thing to do! That croque monsieur looks AMAZING.

spike. said...

I like the way you rolled with it! Success! nice work.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Looks like the end product is absolutely delicious! A nice blend of ingredients! Great job!!

Anonymous said...

glad the apple cinnamon bread worked out for you... i wasn't sure that it would!

Meryl said...

Yum! I'll bet the turkey cut the richness down nicely!

Michele said...

Wow! Fantastic changes!

Anonymous said...

great idea using apple bread for this fantastic sandwich!!