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The Hard-and-Fast Rules of the Croque-Monsieur

 What is your best version of the croque-monsieur? P.S. I hope you don't sell my address to anyone (especially bad cooking sites).

 Dear steve@harlequinromance.biz.cz:

Let's get one thing straight – we never, ever sell, give away, barter, or in any other way deliver anyone's name, email address, or any other personal information to anyone. These days, though, bad cooking sites are the least of our worries when it comes to spam....

Now, are you joking about the croque-monsieur, or Mr. Crunchy? Because it is only a French grilled ham and cheese sandwich. What sets it apart from the ham and cheese sandwiches you may have stumbled upon in your culinary journeys is that the cheese is Gruyère, the crusts have been removed from the bread, and the bread is French bread, not white, spongy, soft American sandwich bread.

Some people will tell you that a croque-monsieur is dipped in an egg wash – like French toast – before being fried. Remove those people from your autodialer this instant. These same people may also tell you that you can purchase a special croque-monsieur grilling iron, with shell-shaped indentations on each side that fold together, squeezing the sandwich inside, which is then placed on a grill and turned when half done, which produces a shell-shaped sandwich. While this is technically true, it has nothing to do with the traditional croque-monsieur, and since you've already deleted these people from your autodialer, you needn't be troubled by them further

There is some acceptable variation in a croque-monsieur, namely, the top may be covered with with a Gruyère-béchamel sauce and put under the broiler and cooked au gratin (until brown and crispy). The French Académie Culinaire has officially debated whether a croque-monsieur is correctly made as an open-faced sandwich with the cheese as a topping, or with two slices of bread and the cheese as a filling. We believe the two-sliced version won out, but you can be sure the Académie Culinaire worthies would never be taken in by an egg-washed croque-monsieur.

According to Larousse, the croque-monsieur was first served in Paris in 1910 in a café on the Bouldevard des Capucines. There is a history here, a heritage, that is not to be sullied by egg washes.

If – now that you appreciate the purity of the sandwich – you wish to make your own, follow this recipe (it does allow for a garnish of bits of truffles, but truffles do not detract from the purity of any savory dish).

There is also a Croque Monsieur à la Brandade, but it involves salt cod, so we assume – unless we hear differently – that that is not what you were asking about.

Nobody anywhere really calls a croque-monsieur Mr. Crunchy. We just thought it would be fun to play with the literal translation. And what makes you think we are in communication with bad cooking sites? We bristle at the very thought….

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