If you're reading this post there's a strong likelihood that I will have been in our outdoor kitchen cooking with one of the most versatile cheeses made, Gruyère. On the menu at La Petite Bouchée is our much-loved Croque Monsieur/Madame (differentiated only by an egg on the madame) We make all of our sauces for brunch from scratch and our cheesy béchamel has been called the ‘Best on the planet’ we alternate between Emmental because it is slightly milder and Gruyère. At the moment the Gruyère we are getting from wonderful Good Taste Food is the best we’ve ever tasted and perfect for this unctuous sauce. We thought we’d share our recipe with you and in the meantime give you some fabulous facts about this delicious cheese.
Gruyère is a hard yellow cheese that originates in the Swiss cantons of Neuchatel, Fribourg, Jura, Vaud and Berne and named after the town of Gruyères. It is definitely one of the best cheeses for baking because it is such a good melting cheese and imparts a savoury quality to any dish without overpowering the other ingredients. It is particularly suited to fondues, along with Emmental and Vacherin, and is often used in a traditional French Onion soup.
The recipe we are sharing today is the Croque Madame. The Croque Monsieur is based on the verb croquer which means to crunch and the word monsieur or to you and I ? Mister. The sandwich’s first recorded appearance on a Parisian café menu was in 1910. Its earliest mention in literature appears to be in volume two of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time in 1918. Todays sandwich is fit for a brunch and as with 80% of all of the meals served at La Petite Bouchée it is cooked in our camp kitchen in front of our guest and people simply strolling round the park or walking their dogs, who spend a lot of time looking longingly at our hand carved jambon. We are also very proud to have had a whole blog devoted to our very humble little sandwich from Gemma Thomas from her wonderful 607 Square miles. Don’t take our word for it, why not read a review of our fabulous Croque Madame here
2 medium slices of sourdough bread
2 slices of hand carved ham
A handful of Gruyère cheese freshly grated
Enough butter to coat the outside of the sandwich
1 cup of flour
50g of salted butter
200 ml of milk
A pinch of sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of English mustard powder
25g of freshly grated Gruyère cheese
1 knob of butter
A handful of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
First prepare the sandwich. Butter the outside of two slices of sourdough bread then fill the inside with the ham and grated Gruyère. Next make the sauce.
Make a basic roux with flour and butter and add the seasoned milk. The milk will be seasoned with salt and pepper, English mustard, bay leaves.
The sauce will start to thicken immediately. Keep it moving, then add a handful of grated Gruyère to lift the sauce, keep it warm. Next heat a heavy based frying pan to a medium heat add the butter till it melts then add the sandwich.
Brown on each side until the cheese melts, then remove, keep warm and in the same pan fry and egg.
To plate up, place the crispy sandwich in the middle of the plate, pour over the cheesy béchamel then top with the fried egg.
As a final flourish strew some chopped fresh parsley across the sandwich.
TIP: If you have any Cheesy béchamel left over, it is fabulous with roasted leeks
photo by Gemma Thomas from Brunch Service at La Petite Bouchée