I am trying to use up all the uneaten food I purchased for our recent house guests. As usual I over bought some things (like deli meats) and did not buy nearly enough of others (like eggs and milk). Having all this food here means I need to get a little creative with it and use it in a non-traditional manner, or we are going to be stuck eating a boatload of sandwiches.
TheHub suggested we have sandwiches for supper the other night, quite unlike him actually. He is not a sandwich kind of guy at all, so I began thinking about some ways to have an upscaled sandwich that would seem a little more substantial and a little fancier than just ham on bread with a slather of mayo and a pickle.
I decided a croque monsieur would be a good way to use the ham slices, but had already realized I would have to punt a little. I knew I had no gruyere or emmentaler cheese, but they both have nutty undertones and I was positive I had an unopened package of swiss in the freezer. It would be a little different but would stay true to the slight nuttiness found in the cheeses. Since the sandwich would cook so quickly, I did not bother getting things ready until about 6:30. Big mistake on my part When I opened the freezer, I found I had multi packs of cheddar, mozzarella, and pepper jack but no swiss. I had no time to change dinner plans so I thought I would just try and take it in a different cheddary direction.
Desperation Croque Monsieur
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup sour cream ( just using remnants and no other reason)
4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook the buter and flour over low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, stirring until it is smooth. Continue cooking until you have a very thick sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream. Return to a very low heat and stir in the grated cheese, until it is all melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
3 thin slices of ham per sandwich (I had enough for 5)
1 slice of bread per sandwich, toasted (doing the math for my ham slices this was five slices of bread)
1 tablespoon mayo
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
While the sauce is cooling, toast both sides of the bread and place it on a cookie sheet. Mix the mayonnaise and dijon together and spread lightly on each slice of bread. Put the ham over the mayonnaised side of the bread. Next, put 1/5 of the cheese sauce on top of each sandwich. Spread it with a knife to within about 1/4-1/2 inch of the edge of the ham. Place the cookie sheet on the top oven rack and broil until the sauce is bubbly. (It took my oven about 2 minutes but I had not turned it on until right before putting them in the oven) Remove and serve piping hot.
We ate ours with just a simple side salad and a couple of pickle spears. It was a filling dish and was much prettier on the plate than a plain sandwich would have been. Since you eat with your eyes first we probably subconsciously had decided it would taste much better. I really did like serving it open faced. I have had traditional ones with both slices of bread and it really does get a little too doughy for me. It was very tasty, but honestly I would have preferred the taste of gruyere or even swiss cheese. I thought the cheddar was a little too sharp and really did overwhelm the ham. But then that is just my taste. It certainly did not keep us from eating and enjoying them.
So, go use your refrigerator excess in a new way. It's fun to play with our food sometimes!