French Baguettes
January 17, 2007 9:52 AM   Subscribe

French Food Filter: What is the ham that you find on the buttered, cheese/ham baguettes in France?

Last April I spent two weeks in France, which were amazing. The food was as sinfully good as they say...

By far my favorite "simple" treat wound up being the baguettes with butter, cheese and ham with an Orangina.

I'd like to recreate that here, but I've never eaten ham that tastes quite like that. It's terribly more salty and thinner than anything I've seen in the states. Does anyone know what it is and if you can get it?

Bonus questions:

1. having had the real thing, there's simply no comparison to French Baguettes. Is there a recipe out there that is true to flavor?

2. Does anyone know why the Orangina you can buy here in the states doesn't taste as good as the real stuff? it seems to be missing some carbonation or something...
posted by finitejest to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I think you are talking about jambon.
posted by milkrate at 9:56 AM on January 17, 2007

Depends on where "here" is. Many upscale food stores sell "French ham" along with Serrano and Prosciutto. Balducci's in NYC has terrific jambon.
(You also need to get good butter to recreate those sandwiches. Try Plugra or President. As to baguettes, you're on your own. Even in New York, where every block has a different upscale bakery touting it's baguettes, I have yet to find anything amazing.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:04 AM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

This page might be helpful in tracking down what preparation of jambon you're longing for.

For bonus #1: No. Baguettes can not be made in a home oven. But you can make the now-famous no-knead bread at home, which tastes better than most of what comes out of American supermarket bakeries simply because it is fresh and the recipe is not compromised to extend its shelf life. (Though ours lasted longer than the six hours or so you get from a baguette.)

NYC baguettes: Balthazar's are not bad, though I hate to plug them.
posted by Doctor Barnett at 10:30 AM on January 17, 2007

It might be jambon de York, which is not as dry as the typical jambon de bayonne or the equivalent Spanish and Italian hams.
posted by briank at 10:39 AM on January 17, 2007

If you want a baguette, the no-knead bread is not going to be anything like what you're looking for. It's a pretty good recipe, but I don't understand its sudden viral popularity--with an ordinary, decent mixer, a home baker can knead bread with very little effort, and the no-knead recipe takes basically just as long to make as any other bread recipe.

But I digress. Danielle Forestier has a perfectly decent home baguette recipe that she prepared on PBS with Julia Child. The recipe's available in the companion book, Baking with Julia. It's a bit intensive, and Forestier is quite rude to Child in the segment (could be nerves, could be a blunt personality) but the results are good. I did some blog searches to see if anyone's posted the recipe but didn't come across anything. It would be worth a trip to the library to copy a few pages since it has some good advice on shaping, etc, that wouldn't come across in a summarized recipe.

As for the Orangina problem, you might try Pellegrino Aranciata, which is a bit "drier" if that makes any sense.
posted by bcwinters at 10:52 AM on January 17, 2007

similar thing in Germany is called Schinken-Speck. Yummy.
posted by Gungho at 10:53 AM on January 17, 2007

New York magazine wrote a piece on "the world's most preeminent French-bread scholar," and these were the 6 NYC baguettes he most liked.
posted by hsoltz at 10:57 AM on January 17, 2007

Best answer: Orangina has corn syrup in the US, and sugar elsewhere. It definitely affects both taste and texture (in a bad way).
posted by O9scar at 11:37 AM on January 17, 2007

Pellegrino Aranciata is nothing like Orangina in any way, shape, or form.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2007

The French ham sandwich with the cheese on the outside is called a Croque Monsieur.

As far as I know, the ham is just regular ham, but what makes it so damn delicious is the cheese, typically Gruyère
posted by drinkspiller at 1:06 PM on January 17, 2007

Maybe it's different in Canada, dirtynumbangelboy, but Aranciata hits that Euro-style, not-too-sweet button for me in a way that Orangina doesn't. And at least the cans available in MA/NH aren't corn syrup sweetened.

Knowledge for Thirst's review of Aranciata calls it "a very rich man’s Orangina," so it's not like I was pulling the comparison out of thin air.
posted by bcwinters at 2:22 PM on January 17, 2007

@drinkspiller: A croque-monsieur is made with toast bread and then toasted. What finitejest is referring to is a very simple jambon-fromage.

@finitejest: It sounds like the ham you are buying is what the French call jambon cru. What you will be after for your jambon-beurre or jambon-fromage is the more expensive jambon cru. Look for jambon de bayonne, Italian prosciutto or Spanish jamón
posted by stereo at 2:27 PM on January 17, 2007

bcwinters, no-knead is talked about so much because it's a new technique in a very old discipline, and because many of us do not have the ordinary bridal registry kitchenaid mixer (which costs over $200 and would consume our entire tiny kitchens).

But I'm interested in this home baguette recipe, particularly where it gets the steam.
posted by Doctor Barnett at 3:34 PM on January 17, 2007

Mmm...sandwich mixte!
posted by candyland at 3:44 PM on January 17, 2007

I believe it involves opening the oven at carefully determined intervals and flinging in cups full of water, Doctor Barnett. I didn't watch the entire video clips on the first site I linked to, but that's my recollection from watching the episode a few years ago.
posted by bcwinters at 4:37 PM on January 17, 2007


the ham is called : jambon d'york, or jambon de paris, and the sandwich itself can be ordered by asking for a "jambon beurre" to the waiter. Briank is right when he says that such a sandwich is not supposed to be fixed with any other ham than the jambon de Paris : the other kinds are just too dry and make it a treat to swallow.
posted by nicolin at 7:47 AM on May 23, 2007

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