Alright, here we go, back at it after a week of house-wide sickness, and then another week trying to get everything back in order and the house clean. Sorry. It’s that whole balance thing where, while I love being a blogger, until I’ve got three kids in school (aka the glory years), I’ve got a lot less time for fun blogging than I’d like some weeks.
But, to start things off again, I’m bringing you my favourite sandwich, the Croque Monsieur. I can hear you “it’s too fancy sounding”, “I don’t like a sandwich when the name doesn’t tell me what’s in it”, relax, this is just a ham and cheese sandwich – a super jacked up, incredibly flavourful, saucy but not messy, incredible sandwich. The French, they know what they’re doing when it comes to food.
Now, I’m whippin it up here the traditional way, albeit with a second layer of bechamel sauce that isn’t typical, but is delicious. There are a lot of well known variations for the Croque Monsieur that you can have some fun with though:
- croque Madame (with a fried egg)
- croque provençal (with tomato)
- croque auvergnat (with blue d’Auvergne cheese)
- croque gagnet (with Gouda cheese and andouille sausage)
- croque norvégien (with smoked salmon instead of ham)
- croque tartiflette (with sliced potatoes and Reblochon cheese)
- croque bolognese / croque Boum-Boum (with Bolognese sauce)
- croque señor (with tomato salsa)
- croque Hawaiian (with a slice of pineapple)
See below the recipe for some step-by-step images building the sandwich. And I meant what I said about it not being messy. It looks like it should be – I mean there is a pile of sauce and cheese right where your hands go. When it broils though, it creates a nice crust on the outside, and is completely manageable to just pick up and eat.
- 1 tbsp butter, plus more for the buns
- 1½ tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- pinch of nutmeg
- 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (can substitute a good quality aged white cheddar)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 good sized ciabatta rolls, tops cut to even them out, then split in half
- Dijon mustard
- 4 slices of Virginia ham
- Butter the cut sides of the ciabatta buns and put them on a baking sheet. Broil for a couple of minutes, watching closely, and flipping them over, to lightly toast both sides. Take the bread out, then pre-heat your oven to 400ºF while you build the sandwiches.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in the flour and let cook for one to two minutes, until lightly browned.
- Whisk in the milk, continuing to whick until all the lumps are gone. Continue to cook until starting to thicken. Stir in ¼ cup of the grated Gruyere, along with the Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Continue to simmer until thickened, tasting and adjusting the seasoning as required, then remove from the heat.
- Spread a layer of dijon mustard on the bottom of your sandwich. Top with two slices of ham, a thin layer of the bechamel sauce, and a handful of the shredded Gruyere. Top with the second slice of bread. Spread a generous portion of bechamel sauce over the top, and then another handful of the shredded Gruyere. Repeat with your second sandwich.
- Place the prepared sandwiches on a baking sheet then into your 400ºF oven for 5 minutes. Switch the oven to broil, and continue to cook until the top is bubbly and lightly browned, about 3 minutes, but watch carefully.
- Let sit for a few minutes before cutting in, then enjoy!
How to Build the Croque Monsieur – Step by Step
Here’s everything you need laid out – the bechamel sauce in the pan, the shredded gruyere, Vermont ham, dijon mustard, and the toasted ciabatta bread.
Spread on the dijon mustard.
Top with two slices of ham, a thin layer of the bechamel sauce (I may have gone a little thick, lol), then a handful of gruyere cheese.
Then, put the top piece of bread on, spread with a decent amount of bechamel sauce, and another handful of the gruyere cheese. Pop it into the oven, then broil it, and you’re good to eat!