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Croque Monsieur Ham & Cheese Sandwich

Serves: Makes 4 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1½ cups milk
  • A pinch each of salt, freshly ground pepper, nutmeg, or more to taste
  • 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1½ cups grated)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (packed)
  • 8 slices of French or Italian loaf bread
  • 12 ounces ham, sliced
  • Dijon mustard


Procedures:

The word croque comes from the verb croquer or “to crunch”. So a Croque-Monsieur roughly translates to “Mister Crunchy”.

The feminine version, a “Croque Madame”, includes a fried egg on top. This classic French bistro sandwich is a great way to use up leftover ham.


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Make the béchamel sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium/low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick. Remove from heat. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the grated Gruyère. Set aside.

Toast bread slices in oven: Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, a few minutes on each side, until lightly toasted. For extra flavor you can spread some butter on the bread slices before you toast them if you want. (Alternatively, you can assemble the sandwiches as follows in step 4 and grill them on a skillet, finishing them in the broiler with the bechamel sauce.)

Build the sandwiches: Lightly brush half of the toasted slices with mustard. Add the ham slices and about 1 cup of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Top with the other toasted bread slices.

Add bechamel, more Gruyere: Spoon on the béchamel sauce to the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère cheese.

Broil till bubbly: Place on a broiling pan. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

If you top this sandwich with a fried egg it becomes a Croque Madame.

Tested and perfected in the Sur la Table kitchen

 
 
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