Wikipedia defines Croque-monsieur as a hot ham and cheese (typically Emmental or Gruyère) grilled sandwich. It originated in France as a fast-food snack served in cafés and bars. More elaborate versions come coated in a Mornay or Béchamel sauce.
Why do I care about a fancy French sandwich definition? I really don’t, but it got me thinking…
I was at the seafood section of the grocery store the other day, and a mom said to her two young sons, “Dad’s making Breakfast-for-Dinner tonight.” I asked myself while scanning the price of scallops (13.99/lb!!!!!), “Is there anything better than having Breakfast-for-Dinner?” I love that there’s no planning involved, just grab a box of cereal or the frying pan. Quick and easy. And, I believe that every time a dad cooks Breakfast-for-Dinner an angel gets their wings.
Later that night, after a dinner of Tilapia ($4.99/lb), Jamie asked me if I liked Panini’s. We had just watched a commercial for some drippy obscene meat-filled grilled sandwich, commonly known today as a Panini. It didn’t really appeal to me. After a minute of though, I said, “Yeah, I like Panini’s, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to have one”.
We both looked at each other and realized that grilled cheese IS the original Panini! This sandwich of melting goodness reins at the top of my comfort food pyramid, right next to mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, an of course, anything prepared for Breakfast-for-Dinner.
Sandwiches, when I was growing up, were your basic bologna & cheese, peanut butter and jelley, cream cheese and jam. I don’t remember my parents every making grilled cheese, but I do remember when all options were exhausted, you could slap a couple of cellophane wrapped “cheese products” between bread in the skillet. The aroma that comes from the pan is almost as good as the taste. You can see the melting cheese ooze from between the bread, and know that in moments it’ll be ready, and in seconds it will be devoured. And, let’s not forget the role of butter in this equation. The taste is enhanced depending on how much butter you slather on the bread, and, well ……..forget about it!!!!
Yesterday morning we had friends over for breakfast, and had left over French toast. So, when it was time for dinner, Jamie put together a grilled cheese sandwich with French toast, cheese (from the deli, not cellophane) and prosciutto. I don’t think he’s ever heard of a Croquet-monsieur, but that is what he made. A gilled cheese on steroids, if you will. His perfect storm of a Cheesy-Breakfast-For-Dinner-Panini was a mouthful of culinary comfort. Ooooh La La.
Clarence, are you there?