One of my 2012 goals is to spend more time enjoying the company of friends and family, and less time in the kitchen with an apron on. And I decided to start early; we’re renting dishes, flatware, and glasses for Christmas dinner so I can visit with my family (and avoid dishpan hands). So I love finding recipes that allow me to do a whack of stuff ahead of time – like Chatelaine’s Baked Croque Monsieur (from the holiday 100+ best recipes book).
We recently had friends over for brunch, and with what was already a jam-packed weekend, I knew most of the prep needed to happen the night before. And this Baked Croque Monsieur dish was the perfect recipe to help me keep me calm and carry on. The entire dish is prepared ahead of time, because it needs at least eight hours to refrigerate before going in the oven. Croque Monsieur, a traditional French “fast food” grilled sandwich, is one of my favourite brunch dishes. With egg-soaked bread, ham, and plenty of melted cheese, it hits the spot…especially on a chilly winter’s day.
Plus, it couldn’t have been easier to pull together. If you can toast bread, whisk eggs, slice ham, and grate cheese, you’re golden. You’ll need a lot of eggs (8), cheese (3 cups), and bread (a loaf, basically), but it will feed a decent sized group. We had five at our table, and still had leftovers (a tip: this dish is much better fresh out of the oven – the re-heating just doesn’t bring it back to its prime).
The assembly took fewer than 15 minutes (the bread needs to toast in the oven for 20 minutes first) and then it went in the fridge overnight. The next day I prepared a fruit salad before our guests arrived, popped some store-bought sweet bread in the oven to warm, and then baked the Croque Monsieur for 45 minutes. Which meant I actually sat, hot coffee in hand, and chatted with everyone rather than busying myself in the kitchen. And that makes this recipe a keeper for me, not to mention it got thumbs up from everyone – including mini sous chef, who had two helpings.
So if you need a dish to feed a hungry brunch crowd and you don’t want to slave over a stove (especially the morning after, say, a New Year’s celebration), then this is the recipe for you.
Try the recipe: Baked Croque Monsieur