CROQUE MONSIEUR WAFFLES

My first visit to Paris, I was a student on a strict budget and traveling off season. Living in residences as a student makes you well equipped to share a bathroom, which meant staying comfortable 2 star hotel in a single room sharing a bath in the 5th arrondissement was ideal. All that mattered to me was that it was close to everything I wanted to see and a less touristy neighbourhood then the main areas, would mean cheaper food options.

To my delight on the first day I discovered the Rue Mouffetard market, a little piece of foodie heaven, was just adjacent to my hotel. I was very happy to shop the market each day for nightly dinner picnics in my room, to save my budget for wine at one of the cafés than neighboured the hotel. This was also before the days of free, accessible wi-fi, so for breakfast I would get an early coffee and pastry at a McDonalds to use their free wi-fi (no shame!) to check in with home while on my solo adventure in Paris. I was determined to make the most of time in Paris and budget I set for myself.

My last night in Paris I decided to have dinner at Café Saint Médard. I had been admiring the charming café that looks out on to the round about at the bottom of Rue Mouffetard. The café has been there since the 1950s, and to me it was quintessentially Paris. Not going too over the top, still rationing my money for wine (this girl has priorities), I decided for dinner I would order a ham and cheese sandwich that came with fries – the croque monsieur. And as French myth suggests it was no ordinary ham and cheese sandwich. There was velvety béchamel oozing out from under the golden gruyere and thick cuts of baked ham between soft brioche bread. It was so so good. So simple, but one of the best meals of my life. And I haven’t even told you about the fries yet!!

SPRING TIME IN PARIS
I’m sure the atmosphere of spring flowers, twinkly lights and boisterous conversations happening around me contributed to my love of the croque monsieur. But I have to say, I have been been back to Café Saint Médard since and it remains one of my favorite cafés, and meals, in Paris.

Not to mess with a classic too much, but this is my fun take on croque monsieur. Swapping out the bread for waffles, makes for a delightful treat for dinner (or any other meal really). When it comes to waffles I like them thin, especially for this recipe, since the trademark of a good croque monsieur is a thin piece of bread. I’ve made this with thicker waffles, and I found it to be too much waffle.

My go-to recipe for waffles is a Martha Stewart recipe. It is a great standard recipe, that is easily adaptable. Add cheese, fruit, herbs or spices, it doesn’t seem to mind. I would almost call it fool proof, but that seems sort of dangerous…

WINE PAIRING
Since we were enjoying waffles for dinner and reminiscing about Paris it seemed only right to open a bottle of French wine. I selected a French malbec that would have enough tannins to cut through the richness of the Gruyere cheese and béchamel sauce and also because it is just really tasty!

Dark in the glass, with rich notes of black fruit and liquorice on the nose. Don’t let the color fool you, it is surprising smooth with a velvety finish, a delightful wine for this café inspired dinner.

Clos la Coutale wine is produced from 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot grapes. The yield is on average 45hl/ha which enables good maturation and regular quality over the years. Vinification is carried out in thermo-controlled vats, and regular “pigeages” (breaking-up of the layer formed on top of the juice) both ensure maximum extraction of the “bouquet” and the fruit. Clos la Coutale is then elaborated in oak barrels to obtain a full balance between the tannins and the fruit.

Served with some fresh tomatoes and a green salad, the croque monsieur waffles makes for wonderfully simple dinner and a fun twist on a café classic!

Croque Monsieur Waffles

Fun twist on classic French bistro fare.

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 8 waffles (use favorite waffle recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 pieces sliced roasted ham
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • Chopped chives, garnish

Instructions
 

  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Add nutmeg and bay leaf. Increase heat to medium-high and boil until sauce thickens, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat broiler. Place waffle on lined baking sheet. Top each waffle with 1 tbsp of béchamel sauce, layer 1 slice of ham, topped with another tablespoon of béchamel and cover with grated cheese.
  • Cooked under broiler under golden brown.Garnish with chives and serve with dijon mustard.
  • Cooked under broiler under golden brown.Garnish with chives and serve with dijon mustard.

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