Patios, martinis, telling secrets, sunshine and general horsing around is again to blame for a lack of diligent food posting. Not to mention all of the wild world news of this past week. The Royal Wedding already feels like decades ago. I didn't wake up at 4 a.m. to have tea and crumpets and watch the wedding, however my friend and I taped it and watched it while eating croque monsieurs and inventing martinis. And P.S. basil martinis are fantastic! Crush some fresh basil, let it sit and infuse in vodka, add a splash of lemon, a spoonful of sugar, shake, shake and shake over ice and enjoy. So back to this sandwich. My favorite sandwich in the world!
Begin by making one of the French mother sauces, béchamel. Julia Child says "sauces are the splendor and glory of French cooking" and this white sauce is the glory of this sandwich. So don't skip this part, it's very simple to make. Butter and flour, milk and a dash of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Whisk it into creamy and smooth submission.
Grate your cheesees. Gruyere and parmesan. Grate, grate, taste. Grate, grate, taste.
Toast the slices of white bread and slather with dijon mustard.
Then assemble! (From bottom to top) toast, dijon (on both sides), ham, shredded gruyere, toast, béchamel, gruyere and parmesan.
Broil until the top is a beautiful golden brown. These are wonderful any time of day with coffee, hot chocolate, or even a cocktail.
Adapted from Ina Garten's Croque Monsieur ~ Serves 4-8
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups hot milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
- 8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread (either in toaster, toaster oven or oven). I made these completely with the toaster oven.
Lightly brush the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice or two of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheesesauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.