Béchamel, like bacon, makes everything better. So it's no wonder that the sandwich of ham and cheese smothered in béchamel sauce that the French call a Croque Monsieur* is so damn delicious. To be honest, a croque monsieur is probably best eaten while seated at a Parisian café reading Sartre and smoking a Gitane cigarette. But that doesn't mean that you can't make a tasty croque at home. Once you master this, step it up a notch and add a poached or fried egg on top to make a Croque Madame (though you may want to consult the footnote first).
*Did you know that the croque monsieur gets its name from the French verb "Croquer," or to crunch and Monsieur, or Mister. That makes it a Mister Crunch sandwich!
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for toasting bread in the pan
- 2 tablespoons all- purpose flour
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 4 thick slices white bread
- Dijon mustard, for spreading
- 4 ounces ham, sliced, we like Black Forest but any will do
- 4 ounces gruyere cheese, sliced
- 1/4 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
- In a small heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Once it starts to bubble and foam add the flour and whisk for another 30 seconds, stirring continuously. Add the warm milk and stir until smooth.
- Spread the Dijon on one side of each piece of bread. Top 2 pieces of bread with even amounts of the ham and cheese. Then place the other two pieces of bread on top to make the sandwiches.
- In a large pan melt another tablespoon of butter. Add each sandwich and lightly brown on both sides.
- Place the sandwiches on a sheet pan and top with the béchamel sauce. Top each with the grated Gruyere and place under the broiler until golden brown and bubbly.