French cooking Paris and Ile de France

How to make a good "croque-monsieur" (eat mister !) a recipe invented... By an assistant executioner.

It's one of the dishes that can be enjoyed in a café and also made at home. Easy to make, but more subtle than it seems, the croquemonsieur recipe is a little over 100 years old. "eat mister" A funny name for a dish that would take its name from the sense of repartee of a Parisian café owner who had been... Executioner. It is necessary to say that if there are French people with the repartee, they are the owners of cafés...


When a street child becomes an executioner, butcher and ... Owner of a bistro.

Numerous sources speak of a café located on Boulevard des Capucins in Paris whose owner, Michel Lunarca, born in 1888, had an original past since, as a street child, he tried to make a living selling postcards, like his mother before him, but it didn't work. He struggled a lot before being hired as assistant executioner by Anatole Deibler the official french executioner. 

A profession that he practiced for a few years before becoming a butcher, which shows a certain logic. Later on, he was hired as a commis de cuisine in the restaurant "le bel âge" in Paris. Hard-working and gifted, he pleased the owner who decided to leave him his bistro when he died. 

Portrait supposé de Michel Lunarca / Par Titus pullo — Travail personnel CC Wikicommons

People say that he cooks human flesh.

The human being being being so made that he is often bad-tongued, people of the district do not hesitate to say that he sometimes serves human meat in his restaurant. And even though all these people say it when his back is turned, Michel Lunarca knows it well. So one evening, when a customer asked him for a sandwich and he was out of bread, Lunarca decided to offer a little dish of his own invention: two slices of sandwich bread (that's all he had left) that he heated up and between which he slipped a slice of ham. "What kind of dish is this?" asks the customer when Mr. Lunarca puts the plate in front of him."man dish" Lunarca answers with a laugh, knowing the reputation he has. 

He improvises a dish because he doesn't have enough to make a sandwich

This dish became "croque monsieur" and quickly became a must in Paris where, before him, people hated the sandwich bread invented by the English. 

Michel Lunarca continued his life as a bistro owner before becoming a soldier during the First World War. He served at the front as a canteen worker in the 19th Infantry Regiment. Married with a young daughter, he died of the Spanish flu in 1920. His dish has become an emblem of French cuisine. 

croque monsieur Image par Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstockcroque monsieur Image par Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock


The official recipe for Croque-monsieur

Ingredients for 4 people 


  • 16 slices of sandwich bread
  • 8 slices of white ham (250 grams).
  • 150 grams of comté cheese, or cantal cheese, or emmenthal cheese or grated Gruyere cheese. 

and enough to make a good béchamel sauce

  • 30 grams of butter
  • 30 grams of flour 
  • 30 grams of milk
  • A little nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper


First make your béchamel sauce 

  1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter gently. Don't put the heat too high or the butter will burn and it won't be good. 
  2. Add the flour and mix to obtain a very liquid paste: it is a blond roux. 
  3. Keep the pan on your medium heat and pour in the cold milk little by little while continuing to stir. 
  4. When the sauce has thickened, add a little nutmeg, salt and pepper and finish mixing. 

Then the croque-monsieur 

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 200°C
  2. On 4 slices you spread the cold béchamel on top 
  3. On 4 other slices spread the cold béchamel on the top and the bottom. 
  4. Take the first 4 slices and put some grated cheese on top.
  5. Put the slices of ham on top.
  6. Add some grated cheese
  7. Put the slices with the béchamel sauce on top and underneath. 
  8. On the top of the croque-monsieur add a little more cheese. 
  9. On a baking sheet, place parchment paper and put your croque-monsieurs on top
  10. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Ideally, 10 minutes in the oven and 5 minutes under the grill to brown the top. 

It is always a good idea to serve your croque-monsieur with a small green salad. 

croque monsieur Image par Jamie Rogers/Shutterstockcroque monsieur Image par Jamie Rogers/Shutterstock


And the croque-madame? 

It is a variant of the croque-monsieur, you just have to add a fried egg on your croque-monsieur at the time of the meal. 

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It is possible that our translator made a mistake in the translation. He lost his mind. Well, no: his head

discover here other savory recipes

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme is "monsieur de France" the author of this site.