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Croque Monsieur

Julia Child eschews the more elaborate versions and offers a relatively simple recipe for the classic ham and cheese sandwich sauteed in butter. Serves 1.

2 thin ( 1/4-inch) slices fresh white sandwich bread of best homemade-type quality

2 to 3 tablespoons clarified butter (melt and skim butter, then pour the clear liquid off the milk residue; have a small saucepan of it for several sandwiches)

2 thin ( 1/8-inch) slices mozzarella cheese or rather soft Swiss

1 thin ( 1/8-inch) slice cooked ham, cut in the same dimensions as the bread

1. On your work surface, lay one slice of bread, brush it with butter, cover with a slice of cheese, a slice of ham, and another slice of cheese. Brush one side of the second slice of bread with butter and lay it, buttered side down, to top the sandwich. Press the sandwich together firmly, leaning on it with the palm of your hand. Trim off the crusts and press down again on the sandwich.

2. In a frying pan, add 1/8 inch of the butter, heat it to bubbling, and brown the sandwiches rather slowly, 2 to 3 minutes on each side, so the cheese will melt. Add more butter as needed. For appetizers, cut the sandwich into quarters or eighths.

Note: If done ahead, arrange on a baking sheet and set aside, covered with plastic wrap. Uncover and heat in a 375-degree oven for 5 minutes or so before serving.

Adapted from "From Julia's Kitchen"

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