One is round and flat, the other square and superimposed. The two like to be browned and have established their ham and cheese heart as a reference recipe. Both have a device dedicated to their cooking but go to the pan to remain within reach of all. The two, again, are the object of rituals, most often on Sunday evening, and compete in their regressive and comforting dimension. Humble, popular, quick to prepare and swallow, the galette (or crêpe) and the croque-monsieur share the same emotional destiny in the hearts of the French.
Less marked regionally than the Breton specialty, the second is distinguished by its extreme ease of production and, of course, by its name croquignolet. The first croque-monsieur would have been served in 1910 in a café on the Boulevard des Capucines, in Paris, and would take its name from a joke of cannibalistic appearance launched by the boss. Asked about the nature of the meat used in this hot sandwich, he would have replied that it was human flesh… The legend and the name have remained. The recipe is mentioned by Marcel Proust in In the shade of young girls in bloom, in 1919.
Long associated exclusively with the world of cafes, snacks and brasseries before reaching the domestic sphere, this double toasted sandwich bread topped with ham and cheese (Gruyère, Emmental) massively imposed itself on the menu of counter express dishes, long before the rise of fast-food chains. Without packaging but on a plate and with cutlery, we serve “croques” with all our hands, as they have been called in coffee shop slang since the 1970s.
No gender privilege, the croque is also available for women, in a croque-madame, topped with a fried egg
The term “croque-monsieur” is invariable. However, when we love, we bite into a lot, crunches – even gentlemen, but that’s another matter. No gender privilege, the croque is also available for women, in a croque-madame, topped with a fried egg. In his book Poilâne, from grains to breads, Apollonia Poilâne chooses an alternative appellation very much in tune with the times. Heir to the family business founded in 1932 which was a pioneer in the marketing of large sourdough breads, used for forty years in “Poilâne croques”, the baker and author offers a vegetarian croque-mademoiselle, combining seasonal vegetables, caramelized onions and cheese.
Béchamel or not béchamel
The great debate, about the croque-monsieur, does not relate so much to the nature of the garnish, which accepts a number of variations, as to the presence, or not, of the béchamel, which has as many fervent supporters as there are opponents. grimacing, traumatized by endives with canteen ham. The good homemade bechamel sauce, prepared from a roux (melted butter and flour) cooked with milk or broth, brings an undeniable extra creaminess, inside or on the surface of the croque-monsieur – sometimes both. . Its industrial version, spread on bistro croques grilled in a hurry under a salamander (professional grill), is so often clumsy, pasty and tasteless that we would prefer a loaf of bread, even a little dry.
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Cuisine: we all fall for the bite