Croque senor

Croque senor is actually sandwich of Cheddar cheese and ham given a Mexican flavour with salsa of tomatoes, chilli and red pepper. It is a version of the croque-monsieur, that originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. Typically, Emmental or Gruyère cheese is used. The name is based on the verb croquer (“to crunch”) and the word monsieur (“mister”). The sandwich’s first recorded appearance on a Parisian café menu was in 1910. A ham and cheese sandwich snack, very similar to the croque-monsieur though not containing any béchamel, is called a tosti in the Netherlands, and toast (pronounced “tost”) in Italy and Greece. Similarly, in England a ham and cheese hot snack is called a ‘toastie’, and toastie makers are available to buy. In the United States, the Monte Cristo, a ham-and-cheese sandwich often dipped in egg and fried, is popular diner fare. A version of this sandwich in Spain replaces the ham with sobrassada, a soft sausage from the Balearic Islands that can be easily spread. In Catalonia it is known as a bikini.

Ingredients:

8 slices of white bread

4 slices of mature Cheddar cheese

4 slices of ham

30 g butter, softened

lemon wedges and coriander sprigs to serve (optional)

For spicy tomato salsa:

3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

1 red pepper, cored, seeded, roasted and peeled, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 fresh green chilli, cored, seeded, and chopped

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

croque senor

Preparation:

Make the salsa: combine the tomatoes, red pepper, garlic, spring onions, chilli and vinegar in a bowl. Add salt to taste and set aside.

Put 4 slices of bread on to a board, and arrange the cheese slices, then the ham slices, on top. Spoon the salsa over the ham.

Lightly spread the butter over one side of the remaining slices of bread and put them, butter-side up, on top of the salsa.

Heat a heavy frying pan, and cook each sandwich, butter-side down, over a medium-high heat until the cheese begins to melt and the bread becomes golden. Lightly spread the second side of each sandwich with the butter. Turn over and cook the other side until golden.

Optionally, garnish with lemon wedges, coriander sprigs, and any remaining spicy tomato salsa. Serve at once

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