But they’re so much more! They’re an entire sandwich on their own. They’re the marriage of my two favorite foods: grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese. Because croque monsieurs are grilled cheeses that take a bechamel bath before they hit your mouth. For those of you not as well versed in the French language, this means that should you choose to make these sandwiches, there would be a buttery, creamy, cheesy sauce involved in your lunch.
My introduction to these savory beauties was at a local restaurant in the French countryside, after a visit here. I know, right? I continued to hunt these sandwiches down for the remainder of my visit, and not just because in a foreign land at the tender age of 20, my palate still bordered on
discerning picky. Also because I can’t say no to Gruyere.
And dear readers, I’m going to do that thing bloggers do sometimes where they tell you that one bite of xyz dish took them right back to that moment in that foreign land that they long to be in again. Because one bite into this sandwich in my little DC kitchen and I was transported. I was sitting outdoors with Wooden Nickels, my aunt and uncle, at a glass table, under an umbrella, in a little French town. These are the real deal.
To make 2 croque monsiuers, you will need:
- 4 slices French bread, the best you can find
- 1 T butter
- 1 T flour
- 2/3 C milk (skim isn’t ideal, but it will do in a pinch)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- pinch nutmeg
- 3 oz. Gruyere (I’ve mixed in Cheddar, which I always have on hand, when I don’t have the full 3 oz.)
- small handful (less than 1/4 C) grated Parmesan
- 3 slices ham
- Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toast the bread lightly in toaster or toaster oven.
Melt butter over medium-low heat in small saucepan. Stir in flour, and whisk till incorporated. Cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes, to allow flour flavor to cook off. Stir in milk, and cook mixture, stirring constantly, till it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Off heat, stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg, and half the Gruyere till melted.
Spread mustard on two slices of bread. Put 1 1/2 slices ham on top of each piece. Sprinkle half the remaining cheese over ham. Place plain slices of bread on top. Slather the top with cheese sauce, and sprinkle with the rest of cheese.
Bake for 5 minutes at 400, then turn on broiler and cook about 3 more minutes, until cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.
*recipe loosely adapted from Ina.