After returning home from the farmers’ market, it was time for lunch. Instead of choosing to throw a frozen burger into the microwave, I decided I would make my first sandwich. Today I decided to go French with the croque monsieur. When I was younger, my mom would sometimes make me a croque monsieur for breakfast, but I never knew how to make one for myself. Strangely enough there were lots of unhelpful recipes that overcomplicated the process. I went through many YouTube videos, as well as written recipes to find the one that seemed to be targeted at my skill level.
One of the things that I never knew about a croque monsieur sandwich is that it usually has a bechamel sauce placed on at least one side of the bread. My mom had never made me a croque monsieur with this sauce. I wanted to try to make this sauce, so I took a small detour and started researching recipes for the bechamel sauce. It ended up that bechamel sauce is actually rather easy to make. I followed this recipe, which was very clear. I was glad that I had all of those ingredients readily available, even tough I hadn’t originally planned to be making this sauce.
I started by heating milk up in a pot. In an adjacent pot, I began melting butter in a pot and stirring it to keep it from browning. Unfortunately, I wasn’t stirring
vigorously enough, so it did end up browning a bit. I added my flour and continued to stir. Then I added my milk and continued stirring and then waited for it to boil. I was a bit worried that I had somehow measured out the amount of milk incorrectly because the sauce seemed to be very thin. As soon as the sauce boiled, everything chanced and it ended up being very thick. I stirred the pot a couple more times and then turned off the gas.
Next I took two large pieces of bread out of my bag. I bought this bread at the farmers’ market, the name of the company is Bread Alone. When I went to the market there was a large variety of breads available. I chose the whole wheat sourdough. I am a big fan of sourdough bread, but I know that I lose much of the fiber in the bread when I eat white breads. I tasted this bread on it’s own and it is very good! I was impressed by Bread Alone’s selection and the clerk was very friendly. Even though this bread costs significantly more than a loaf of bread at a regular supermarket does, I think it is worth it because it is both local, organic and handmade every day! I am very happy with this product.
I simply spread one side with the Bechamel sauce on one side of the bread. Then I put two slices of ham
onto the slice. I used Applegate farms ham. While this ham is not organic, Applegate farms has a strong policy about raising their animals in a humane matter and not adding any nitrates or nitrites. After putting the ham on the sandwich, I used the gruyere cheese that I had grated and spread it all of the bread. I topped the sandwich off with the other half of bread and put another layer of bechamel sauce on top. Then I added some more of the gruyere cheese. I put it in the oven to melt the cheese. I was very impatient (and hungry) but I left my sandwich in the oven for 5 minutes. And even that wasn’t long enough, so I left it in for another 3 minutes or so. Finally the cheese was melted and it smelled great! I am very happy with how this sandwich came out. I am very proud that I was able to make the Bechamel sauce by myself and it really added flavor to the sandwich. In the future, I would like to be more prepared to keep the Bechamel sauce from browning.
Health: C. While some of the ingredients are organic or local, some of the ingredients are conventional, such as the white flour. Cheese and milk are both pretty heavy, and the cheese is especially fattening. The ham is very salty.
Taste: B+. Good, but I wish there was more flavor.
Price: B. My loaf of bread will make at least 5 sandwiches and the cheese will last for a long time, but the ham was pretty expensive and only had a few slices. Maybe if I had a bigger group to make more sandwiches, I would feel differently. I don’t know if I’ll be able to use all the bread and cheese before it goes bad.
Overall: B-. I am overall happy with the taste of this sandwich, but it is not very healthy and definitely not something I could eat on a daily basis.