A tartine can be a slice of bread simply topped with butter and preserves, or it can be a more elaborate open-faced sandwich. (Leave it to the French to give even the humblest foods such a charming name.) This recipe employs waffles as the bread and combines the free-spirited toplessness of a tartine sandwich with classic croque monsieur ingredients. Waffle tartines make a satisfying breakfast or, with a vinaigrette-dressed salad served alongside, an excellent midday meal or light dinner. If you’ve got classic waffles in your freezer and are looking for an out-of-the-ordinary way to use them, here’s your answer.
- 4 standard classic waffles
- 12 ounces good quality sliced ham
- 3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
- whole-grain mustard, for serving
- cornichons, for serving
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- pinch of cayenne
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 500°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
For the sauce:
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour to make a roux and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Whisking constantly, gradually pour in the milk. Once all the milk is in, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady but not overly vigorous simmer and cook the sauce, whisking occasionally, until it is nicely thickened and the starchy taste of the flour has been cooked out, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheese, and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Whisk in the nutmeg and cayenne, and then season with salt and pepper. Set the sauce aside.
For the waffles:
- Lay out the waffles on the prepared baking sheet. Top each waffle with a portion of ham.
- Spoon one-quarter of the sauce over the ham on each waffle and spread the sauce to about 1/2 inch of the edge.
- Sprinkle shredded Gruyère on each, dividing it evenly. Bake until the cheese is melted and spotty brown, 8 to 10 minutes. (If the cheese is not yet browned, turn on the broiler and broil the tartines until the cheese begins to color; this should take no longer than a minute.)
- Let the tartines cool for a few minutes, then transfer them to individual plates. Serve right away, passing whole-grain mustard and cornichons at the table.
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