Croque Monsieur (French hot ham and cheese sandwich)
Recipe video above. Unapologetically calorific, this is the famous French hot ham and cheese sandwich! If you want to make it the traditional way, do not skimp on cheese or butter, and do not even think about using low fat anything. 😂While it's thought of as a brunch/breakfast, Croque Monsieur is typically served as lunch in France with a side of fries and simple salad.Truly one of the greatest sandwiches in the world, one that I say everyone should experience at least once in their lives ….
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Light Lunch
Keyword: croque monsier, grilled cheese, ham and cheese sandwich
1/2cupcream(pure or heavy / thickened)
1 1/2 tbsp / 25gunsalted butter
1 1/2tbspflour, plain / all-purpose
1/4tspsalt, kosher/cooking salt
1/8tspnutmeg, preferably freshly ground
4slicessourdough bread, 1.5cm / ⅗" thick (Note 1)
8slicesSwiss or gruyere cheese(165g / 6 oz, enough for 2 layers a sandwich) (Note 2)
Heat milk and cream: Place milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until steaming, but don't let it boil. Set aside.
Make roux: Melt butter in a separate small saucepan over medium heat, then turn the heat down to low. Add flour and cook, stirring almost constantly, for 3 minutes. Don't let it brown.
Add hot milk: While stirring, add half the milk. Once incorporated into the roux, mix in remaining milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Thicken: Mix for 30 seconds to a minute or until it thickens into a spreadable and soft butter-like consistency (ie. not runny). If you have lumps, whisk until gone. Remove from heat (it is OK if it cools).
Assemble for pan frying:
Spread with Bechamel: Spread half the béchamel over the 4 slices of bread, as though you are buttering them to make normal sandwiches! (Reserve half the béchamel for topping)
Cheese + Dijon: Top two pieces of bread with 2 slices of gruyere or Swiss cheese each (fold as needed to make them fit). Then spread the cheese with half the Dijon Mustard (this might sound weird, but see in post for why we do this!).
Ham + Dijon: Top with ham, then spread ham with remaining Dijon mustard.
Top each of the two slices with 2 more slices of cheese (again, folding as needed), then close sandwiches with the other slices.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Place sandwiches in the skillet, and cook for 2 minutes, pressing down lightly with an egg flip or spatula, until a deep golden brown.
Turn and cook the other side until golden brown. Transfer to a baking tray.
Bake then broil:
Topping: Slather remaining béchamel thickly on the upper pieces of bread. Sprinkle with Gruyere, then parmesan.
Bake and broil: Bake 15 minutes, then switch to the grill/broiler for 3 minutes and grill until the top is golden and bubbling.
Immediately transfer to warmed serving plates, with knives and fork for serving (it's too messy to eat with hands.) For a traditional French bistro experience, add a side of fries and leafy greens lightly dressed in French Dressing or a basic vinaigrette. Devour and weep with joy! (Over the sandwich that is, not the salad!)
1. Bread choice – Use a bread with decent heft and structure, not something very soft and delicate like basic square loaf bread, otherwise it won't hold up to the considerable weight of the fillings!A sourdough that doesn't have a very thick or too-chewy crust is ideal (I used Bowan Island sourdough from Harris Farms, in case you are interested!). Otherwise a ciabatta, pane di casa or other stone baked bread will work a treat.If you only have a soft bread (like said standard sandwich bread), toast it first before assembling, that will help keep it intact. Also consider using two slices of bread (glued with an extra sprinkle of cheese) to form one!2. Cheese choices – Comte and Emmental are popular choices in France. Here in Sydney they can be harder to come by and rather expensive! Gruyere and Swiss cheese are ideal alternatives - excellent flavour, excellent melting qualities.While these are the most traditional cheeses for Croque Monsieur you could absolutely make this with any good melting cheese (cheddar, Colby, tasty, Monterey Jack etc) and it will still be insanely good. Give mozzarella a miss in this one, as while it melts well it tends to be quite bland in grilled cheeses.3. Nutrition per sandwich. (I was scared to do this calculation. It is a lot but I think these values are somewhat exaggerated. Still, diet food this definitely ain't! Wear loose pants while eating!!😂)