Hospitality veteran Franco Caruso, owner-chef of Brunswick West cafe Lolo & Wren, says croque-monsieur is a firm menu favourite. ''It is a dish that people feel comfortable ordering when they are too tired to think. But I wanted it to be a bit more rock 'n' roll.''
Channelling Elvis and his deep-fried Scottish heritage, Caruso has come up with the king of toasties. ''I wanted it to be decadent and rich, a no-holds-barred kind of meal. If Elvis were alive in Brunswick West in 2014, I have no doubt that he would order it.''
2 large slices organic sourdough bread
60g cheese and chive cream
100g thick slices hand-cut leg ham
60g Swiss cheese, grated
2 tbsp grana padano, grated
300g Japanese panko crumbs
200ml egg wash
Cheese and chive cream
125g unsalted butter
125g plain flour
400ml full cream milk
100ml full cream
100g grana padano, grated
pinch grated nutmeg
4 tbsp chopped chives
salt and pepper
cottonseed oil to fry
1. To make cheese and chive cream, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour. Cook, stirring, for one to two minutes or until bubbling. Remove from heat. Slowly add milk and cream, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth. Return to heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until sauce comes to the boil, thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in grana padano and nutmeg. Set aside to cool. Once cool, add chopped chives.
2. To make egg wash, crack eggs into a bowl, add milk and whisk together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. To assemble, spread slices of bread generously with the cheese and chive cream. Layer on ham and sprinkle with the Swiss cheese and grana padano. Add salt and pepper and firmly press both slices together.
4. Place sandwich in the egg wash and soak it as you would French toast. Coat in the Japanese panko crumbs.
5. Shallow-fry in cottonseed oil until golden brown.