Croque Monsieur

This is my version of the toasted cheese and ham sandwich of café society fame, and just thinking about it and imagining atmospheric, crowded pavement cafés makes me long to be in Paris and eat it there. But, that not being possible, it's one of the nicest snack meals for one that I know.

Serves 1

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One

Croque Monsieur
 2 large slices good-quality white bread, buttered
 2 oz (50 g) Gruyère, finely grated
 2-3 slices smoked cooked ham, Parma ham or wafer-thin ham
 ½ oz (10 g) butter, melted
 1 level dessertspoon finely grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)
 salt and freshly milled black pepper


This could not be simpler. On one slice of the buttered bread, spread half the grated Gruyère, then cover that with the slices of ham, folding them if need be to fit the size of the bread. Now sprinkle the rest of the Gruyère on top of the ham, season, then press the other slice of bread on top of that and press it down very firmly. You can at this stage cut off the crusts, but I think they add extra crunchiness.

Now brush half the melted butter on the top side of the sandwich, sprinkle it with half the Parmesan and press it in. Now transfer the sandwich to the grill pan and grill it for about 2 minutes, 2 inches (5 cm) from the heat. When it's golden brown, turn it over, brush the other side with the remaining melted butter, sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan all over and grill for another 2 minutes. Then remove it from the grill, cut it into quarters and eat it while it's still crunchy.

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