Grandaddy of All Ham & Cheese

So last week, after working at the hospital from 7a-3:30p all day Saturday, running around to do a little Christmas shopping, then spending 3 hours decorating the Christmas tree, I collapsed into a heap on the couch.  Firmly ensconced in my warm blanket with mulled apple cider in hand, I began to mindlessly flip through the channels and came across It’s Complicated on HBO.  Great movie.  I love Nancy Meyers movies.  If you haven’t seen it, you should.  But I digress…

First, it must be said that Meryl Streep’s kitchen in that movie is A-MA-ZING!

Seriously, this is my DREAM kitchen.  But the kitchen is not the point of this post…it’s what is being eaten in this fabulous kitchen!  There is a scene where Meryl Streep and Steve Martin are eating a meal of what looked to be a large piece of cheesy bread, salad and some Chardonnay.  Now, the first time I saw this movie WHAT was being eaten didn’t catch my attention.  But this time, I went – “Huh, wonder what THAT is?”  Through the miracle that is the DVR, I was able to rewind and memorize the French name Meryl Streep called it…

Croque Monsieur!

When curious about making a French dish, there is but one “go to gal” – The Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten.  A little search around the Food Network website informed me that this dish is basically a French Ham & Cheese sandwich.  Hmmm….and I just happen to have fresh homemade bread on my counter. What’s a girl to do?  Why whip some up, of course!

Check out the Barefoot Contessa’s full Croque Monsieur recipe here.  First you have to grate a lot of cheese – I mean a lot.  We’re talking 12 oz/5 cups of Gruyere

and a 1/2 cup of Parmesan.

(Now, my Pampered Chef gadget definitely made this grating easier.) Then you melt some butter and stir in some flour until it looks like this.

Did I just make a roux?  To finish off the sauce, stir in 2 cups of hot milk

followed by the Parmesan, a 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir it until it is a big ol’ saucepan of creamy, cheesy goodness.  And now, NOW is when we get to put that Beer Bread to good use…

First you slice it up, then toast it up, and cover it in Dijon mustard, sliced ham, and grated Gruyere

top if off with another slice of bread,

and cover it with the cheese sauce.

GET. A. LOAD. OF. THAT!!!!  Any recipe that allows me to ladle cheese sauce on to, well, quite frankly anything, is a winner in my book!

Believe it or not, you then sprinkle MORE Gruyere on top then bake and broil it until it looks like this

Now, BG was not about to let any of the cheesy goodness go to waste.

I mentioned that the fastest way to his heart was to combine his two favorite things – beer and bread.  Well, you add cheese to that and he is on Cloud Nine!

In all honesty I sliced the bread too thickly.  So, the next night I made it in an open faced version and much preferred that.  It’s much prettier that way, don’t you think?

BG declared that this was the “best damn ham and cheese ever” and I have to admit, I whole-heartedly agree with him!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

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    • Matt on 12.13.2010 at 8:00 pm

    I meant to leave a comment last night, but I hate to break it to you – Dogfish 120 is not available in NC because it’s too high alcohol! I think NC’s restriction is 15%… you’ll have to hunt it down over the internet, or make a drive to Virginia. Of course, the 120 is only released a couple times a year so keep your eye on

    Sorry to bear the bad news!

    • on 12.13.2010 at 11:09 pm

    Well, that explains a lot. Thanks for the head’s up, Matt. We make take a road trip to VA sometime soon then. 🙂 There are very few things my husband won’t do for good beer!

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