I have a love for anything French. Really, it’s more of an obsession. I studied French in high school, and lived in the French house in college. Paris is my favorite city in the world, French films are among my favorites, and French food is definitely up at the top of my list! My favorite thing about French cooking is its ability to be so simple and yet so tasty! Bistro food is traditionally quite casual, from a slice of quiche, a sizzling plate of steak frites, or the following (and one of my personal favorites) a cheesy, crusty croque monsieur aka the greatest grilled cheese you will ever have! This recipe is especially great because the bechamel sauce adds such a deliciously creamy texture to the crusty and cheesy sandwich. Also, the Dijon mustard offers a tangy twist on the sandwich, and compliments the other flavors perfectly. All in all, it’s the perfect sandwich 🙂
10 slices white bread
10 slices Black Forest ham (about 1/2 lb)
8-10 oz Gruyere cheese, half sliced and half shredded
Dijon mustard, as needed
Softened butter or butter spread (like Country Crock), as needed
Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)
Slice enough cheese to cover 5 pieces of bread, and grate remaining cheese. Top half the bread slices with the sliced cheese and cover each with two slices of ham, folding in half as needed to fit the bread. Spread Dijon mustard over ham and cover with another piece of bread to form a sandwich.
Heat up a saute pan over medium heat. Spread softened butter lightly over one side of each sandwich. Place sandwiches butter-side down in pan, fitting a couple sandwiches at a time. Spread the other side of the sandwich with softened butter now. Cook sandwich for a few minutes on each side until nice and golden, but not too dark. Remove from heat and place on a sheet pan. Finish grilling remaining sandwiches.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread a couple spoonfuls of bechamel over the top of each sandwich, making sure to coat the entire bread or else the edges may burn under the broiler (you will most likely have leftover sauce). Cover with grated Gruyere and place in the oven for about 5 minutes to warm through and make sure the cheese inside is completely melted. Turn on the broiler and heat for about 5 minutes more, keeping a careful watch as to not burn the croque monsieurs. They are done with the cheese is nice and bubbly and golden in spots.
Remove from the oven and let them sit for a couple minutes before serving.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick)
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk, warmed
Salt and pepper, to taste
A pinch of nutmeg
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk, cooking for a few minutes until the roux begins to turn a lightly golden hue. Carefully whisk in the milk a little at a time. Keep whisking or else you will have lumpy sauce. Once the milk is incorporated, season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and cook a few minutes longer, whisking often to make sure it doesn’t burn or get lumpy. The sauce should be nice and thick. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.