The Croque Monsieur is a French toasted sandwich that consists of ham, gruyere cheese, a sprinkling of herbs and oozing bechamel sauce. It's rich, cheesy, savory and wonderful, and it's a total mystery why the sandwiches haven't quite caught on in North America. Mark us - these sandwiches could be the next big food trend. There's cheese in the middle, and cheese broiled on top! What could be better?
It's important that you understand that the Croque Monsieur's magic lies in that it is greater than the sum of its parts, even though all of its parts are already amazing. You'll find yourself having a hard time not abandoning all sanity and eating the bechamel right out of the pan, but if it makes it into the sandwich, it's even better. If you have some mini-gherkins or capers for garnish, even better, because the salty acidity will cut the richness of the sandwich. Bon Appetit has an excellent, basic recipe to teach you to make an amazing Croque Monsieur.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 slices 1/2-inch-thick country-style bread
6 oz. ham, preferably Paris ham (about 8 slices)
3 oz. Gruyère, grated (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
To make the Bechamel:
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add flour and cook, stirring until mixture is pale and foamy, about three minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring until mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring until sauce is thick and somewhat elastic, about four minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and nutmeg. Season with salt.
Assembling your Croque Monsieur:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread bread slices with béchamel, dividing evenly and extending all the way to the edges. Place four slices of bread, béchamel side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet; top with ham and half of cheese. Top with remaining slices of bread, béchamel side up, then top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with herbes de Provence. Bake until cheese is brown and bubbling, 10-15 minutes.
Now that you know how to make the most delicious, perfect sandwich in the world, good luck not eating it every day!