21 February 2013

Croque Bagnat

This hot sandwich combines the best of two worlds : the mediterranean flavours of the Pan Bagnat and the melted yumminess of the classic Croque Monsieur.

For those of you who would be unfamiliar with these snacks, wiki tells us that Pan Bagnat is a "sandwich [...] composed of pain de campagne, whole wheat bread formed in a circle, although white bread is also sometimes used, around the classic Salade Niçoise, a salad composed mainly of raw vegetables, hard boiled eggs, anchovies and/or tuna, and olive oil (never mayonnaise)."  This sandwich is deeply rooted into the luncheon habits in the region of Nice in Southern France, but it is wide spread all through the Côte d'Azur and beyond.

Still quoting wiki,  "a croque-monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich [which] originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack."  Even in Belgian cafés, you'll have no trouble finding a croque monsieur on the menu as it is a quick, cheap and filling meal, ideal for those who are in a hurry or need something to layer their stomachs before downing more of the other thing Belgium is famous for besides chocolate, that's right, beer :o)

The recipe for this Croq Bagnat came out of the book "Croquez Monsieur!" by Philippe Conticini, which seems to be out of print nowadays (oh and don't even consider buying that book at 211,20 EUR from my link - it was a mere 10 EUR when it was just published!).

So anyway, back to our Croque Bagnat.

In order to make two croques you'll need :

*  4 slices of (wholemeal) pain de mie (pullman loaf)
* 2 Tsp of butter en pommade (butter that has softened to the point that it is spreadable)
* 2 pinches of salt (fleur de sel
* 8 fine slices of parmesan (or if you can't find slices, I have also used 15g of grated parmesan instead)
* 2 slices of mozzarella (about 1cm thickness)
* 1/2 hardcooked egg
* 2 anchovies (optional)

For the tuna mixture :

* 120g canned tuna in brine
* 3 leaves of basil
* 3 Tsp of balsamic vinegar
* 3 Tbsp of olive oil
* 1 Tbsp of lemon juice
* 4 drops of tabasco
* 5 (sliced) black olives
* 1 Tsp chopped garlic
* seasoning (pepper & salt) 

Preparing the tuna :

Mix the tuna, basil, balsacmic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, tabasco, olives and garlic together. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembling the croques :

Butter each pain de mie slice on one side. Sprinkle it with fleur de sel and turn around.

Put on the bread, 4 fine parmesan slices, 1 big tbsp of the tuna mixture, a slice of egg (± 0.5 cm thick), 1 slice of mozzarella and to finish of, one anchovy.

Cover with another slice of bread, butter side out.


Put the croques in the croque machine for about 3 minutes until they have a nice brown golden colour.

If you don't have a croque machine at hand, I am sure you can prepare them in the oven or on a skillet as well.  The advantage of the croque machine however is that it seals the edges of the bread, leaving all the yumminess trapped inside.


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