On a cool, clammy, chilly day, this warm sandwich is a great meal!
This recipe was a lunch menu item at a French cafe that I worked in. The owner of the cafe was from France and his personal occupation originally was being a model for church Jesus portrait paintings. It was funny to be working with a guy that looked just like the Jesus in most church paintings! I have seen copies of his face in church Jesus pictures my whole life. The owner had the famous classic Jesus look that all painters wanted as a model for a Jesus portrait painting.
Yes, we called the cafe owner "Jesus" at the workplace. If a table of customers needed attention in the dining room, then we would ask Jesus to make an appearance at the table! Many customers who saw the owner's Jesus painting portraits that he posed for over the years, simply went into a state of shock, when Jesus walked through the dining room! Silverware would drop on plates and customers actually spoke prayers. The owner would walk back in the kitchen with a smile on his face and say "I love it when a customer thinks of complaining and then they start praying!"
That French cafe was a fun place to work! I was an apprentice at that time and the restaurant had no chef, while I worked there. The owner was a Jesus portrait model by trade and he really did not know French cooking very well. He liked the food that he ate in France, while making money posing for French painter's Jesus portraits, so that is how he came to open a French restaurant in America.
The owner of the cafe mistakenly called this sandwich by the name "Le Monsieur." There was a resemblance to a monsieur sandwich, but the owner of the restaurant did not really seem to know how a monsieur sandwich was supposed to be. At that time, I only did as I was told, because I was an apprentice.
A true monsieur sandwich is not topped with a bechamel base sauce. It is only topped with cheese. A true monsieur sandwich is baked, till the cheese becomes crusted. I origionally named this recipe as a Le Monsieur, because the Jesus portrait model owner of that old restaurant gave this sandwich that name. After editing this recipe at a later date, I changed the title to what this sandwich really is. If you wish to see what a true monsieur sandwich looks like, then take a look at my Croque Madame recipe. A Croque Madame and a Croque Monsieur look very similar.
Even with the name change, this triple decker hot sandwich is very appealing for a cold chilly day. The way that the Jesus model French restaurant owner showed me how to make this sandwich, there was no crisp crunchy coating at all. This sandwich is more like a warm open face sandwich that is stacked and coated with mornay sauce. This sandwich has a soft texture instead of a crunchy texture.
The reason that the Jesus model may have adjusted the crunchy croque monsieur texture to a softer texture was because the average age of the restaurant's lunch clientele was in there late seventies! Our customers had no teeth of their own and they could not chew a crunchy sandwich! The Jesus portrait model was actually a slick restauranteur!
Mornay Sauce (Bechamel Version):
Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
Add 4 pats of unsalted butter.
Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring with a whisk.
Stir the roux, till it gives off a light hazelnut aroma and the roux becomes a very light blond color.
Use a spatula to place the roux into a small bowl.
Set the roux aside.
Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
Add 3-4 ounces of dry white wine. (I used a French White Burgundy Chardonnay for this recipe.)
When the wine becomes hot, add an equal amount of cream.
When the cream and wine become hot, add a little bit of the blonde roux at a time, while stirring with a whisk. Only add enough roux to thicken the sauce to a very thin sauce consistency!
Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin sauce consistency.
Add 1 handful of grated swiss lorraine cheese, while constantly stirring with a whisk.
Stir until the cheese melts into the sauce.
Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Simmer the sauce gently for 2 to 3 minutes.
Keep the mornay sauce warm over very low heat and stir the sauce occasionally.
Ham and Mushroom Mornay Stack Sandwich Preparation:
Heat a saute pan over medium low heat.
Add 5 pats of unsalted butter.
Add 1/2 cup of thin sliced mushrooms.
Season with sea salt and white pepper.
Gently sweat and saute the mushrooms, till they become tender.
Keep the sweated mushrooms warm on a stove top.
Cut 3 thick slices of French brick bread. (If brick bread is not available, then trim 3 thick slices of a round loaf of French bread into 5" x 5" square shapes.)
Place the bread slices on a baking pan, side by side.
Place 1 to 2 ounces of sliced ham on two of the slices of bread.
Place a slice of Lorraine Swiss cheese on the two ham layers.
Place a few of the sweated mushroom slices on the two cheese layers.
Leave the third slice of bread plain.
Heat the sandwich layers in a 350 degree oven, till they become warm and till the cheese melts.
Ham and Mushroom Mornay Stack Sandwich:
Place one deck of the ham, cheese and mushroom sandwich on a plate.
Spoon a little bit of the mornay sauce over the first sandwich deck.
Place the second ham, cheese and mushroom sandwich deck on top of the first sandwich deck.
Spoon a little bit of the mornay sauce over the second layer.
Set the plain third slice of toasted bread on top of the other two sandwich decks.
Pour a generous amount of the mornay sauce over the top of the triple decker sandwich and onto the plate.
Garnish the top of the sandwich and the plate with the remaining sweated mushroom slices.
This is a great tasting triple decker French sandwich! The flavors are elegant, comforting and hearty. That is a rare description for a sandwich! This ham, mushroom and mornay sandwich was a customer favorite at that small French cafe that the Jesus portrait model owned. We never had any complaints! Yummy! ... Shawna