Cook’s Country Croque Monsieur (Ep 1306)

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PHOTO CREDIT: JOE KELLER

Croque Monsieur

SERVES 4

We were looking for a truly impressive version of this French bistro favorite—one with crisp, buttered bread; salty-sweet ham; a creamy white sauce; and plenty of nutty Gruyère cheese. We chose to amp up the béchamel sauce called for in traditional recipes by adding some Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses. To ensure that the sandwiches were ready to eat at the same time, we assembled all four of them on a baking sheet, layering in the cheese sauce and Black Forest ham before topping them all with more sauce and cheese. A trip under the oven’s broiler was all that was needed to meld the sandwich ingredients together, creating a bubbly-browned top in the process.

For the best results, be sure to use a good-quality Gruyère here.

INGREDIENTS

Sandwiches

  • 8 slices hearty white sandwich bread
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 12 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest deli ham
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 cup)     

Mornay Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • Pinch ground nutmeg

INSTRUCTIONS

1. FOR THE SANDWICHES: Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray.

2. Brush bread on both sides with melted butter and place on prepared sheet. Bake until light golden brown on top, about 10 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and flip slices. Return to oven and bake until golden brown on second side, about 3 minutes. Reserve 4 slices for sandwich tops; evenly space remaining 4 slices on sheet.

3. FOR THE MORNAY SAUCE: Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and bring to boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and quickly whisk in Gruyère, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until smooth.

4. Spread 1 tablespoon Mornay on each slice of toast on sheet. Then, folding ham slices over themselves multiple times so they bunch up, divide ham evenly among slices of toast. Spread 2 tablespoons Mornay on 1 side of each reserved slice of toast and place slices Mornay side down on top of ham.

5. Spread 2 tablespoons Mornay evenly over top of each sandwich, making sure to completely cover toast, including edges (exposed edges can burn under broiler). Sprinkle sandwiches with Parmesan, followed by Gruyère.

6. Bake until cheese on top of sandwiches is melted, about 5 minutes. Turn on broiler and broil until cheese bubbles across tops of sandwiches and edges are spotty brown, about 5 minutes. Serve.