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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Don't Hold The Mayo

After watching Meryl Streep and Steve Martin devour Croque-Monsieur sandwiches in the wonderful It's Complicated, Baby and I left the theater completely ravenous. Since he had just made a loaf of some hearty country bread, we went to the market for slices of ham and gruyere cheese to make some French fare of our own. As they do at Bruxelles, my favorite bistro in the city, we made some salad and frites to go along with our sandwiches.

Our greens were dressed with the leftover mustard sauce from our Celery Victor and just because our frites were rather more Ore-Ida fries from a bag, we still strove toward tradition and made our own mayonnaise for dipping! For years I had wanted to try but never quite dared and perhaps it was just beginner's luck, but apart from the strenuous, constant use of a wire whisk to blend olive oil into egg yolks over several minutes, the faintly olive green result was a touch fruity and quite good, seeming like fairly miraculous alchemy.

From The French Chef cookbook, Julia Child creates hand-made mayonnaise (The Hundred and Twentieth Show). Within its pages we learned that "egg yolks are delighted to absorb olive oil and turn it into an emulsion - meaning a thick sauce." However, eggs should be at room temperature, and their yolks must be beaten first until thickened and light in color like lemons. She further tells us that "egg yolks can only absorb a certain amount of oil...oil proportions are a maximum of 3/4 cup per egg yolk." After the yolks have received 1/2 cup of oil with all that whipping, you can ease up a bit, and more casually whip in more oil, a few droplets at a time--but unless you need a lot of mayonnaise, I think you can stop shortly after incorporating the first 1/2 cup of oil.

Now, go to your sandwiches!


Bon Appetit May 2001

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
4 slices firm white sandwich bread
4 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham
4 ounces sliced Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
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 2 bread slices on work surface. Top each with half of ham and sliced Gruyère. Top with remaining bread.
Heat heavy large skillet over low heat.
Brush sandwiches with 1 tablespoon melted butter.
Add to skillet and cook until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer to small baking sheet.
Spoon sauce, then grated cheese over sandwiches.
Broil until cheese begins to brown, about 2 minutes.

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