The croque monsieur is a grilled or fried ham and cheese sandwich (Gruyère or emmental cheese is usually used) with the top of the sandwich having a layer of béchamel sauce on it. Thought to have originated in Paris cafes back in 1910, it is found throughout France and is served as a snack or casual meal.
In a tribute to what could be regarded as the world’s finest toastie (and to the country that gave us Liberté, égalité, fraternité and Briget Bardot), I present you the Bastille Burger:
1 kg beef mince
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp of herbes de Provence (if you can’t get these then equal parts of dried tarragon, thyme and oregano).
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
3/4 cup whole milk
Sea salt and ground black pepper
2 tbsp Parmigiano (grated)
Gruyère cheese (grated) (about 3/4 cup).
6 to 8 soft burger buns, split and toasted (or you can use brioche)
Shaved ham off the bone
Sliced dill pickles (sliced lengthwise)
Slices (or shredded) Gruyère cheese
Mix the mince with all the burger ingredients. Once mixed thoroughly (don’t over knead or the burger will be tough), divide into six or eight patties. Make a small oval depression on the top of each patty so when the burger cooks it rounds out evenly.
Start making the béchamel sauce by adding the butter in a small saucepan on low heat and melting until foamy. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a flat sauce whisk until smooth (about 2 minutes). Slowly add milk, stirring continuously and cook until the mixture thickens – enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in Parmigiano and grated Gruyère. Reserve until ready.
Toast your halved burger buns and set aside ready for assembly.
Wrap the slices of ham off the bone in aluminium foil and warm in a moderate oven.
Grill your burgers to your liking. Make sure the grill is hot and you oil the grill. Place each burger on it – a high heat will ensure a good crust around the burger. Avoid flipping too often or pressing down on the burger as you want to keep all the flavour and juices inside. Like with all meat – allow the burgers to rest.
Take top burger bun and add a good layer of béchamel on to the top and place again under the grill to allow béchamel to slightly brown. Spread the toasted bun halves with béchamel, dividing evenly and extending all the way to the edges. Assemble the burger with the remainder of the ingredients from the bottom bun by adding the warmed leg ham, Dijon mustard, burger, Gruyère cheese, sliced pickle and top with the other bun half.
Serve with a side of fries.