Okay, everyone. Put on your elastic-waistband pants and get ready for some serious comfort food. Today, I’m going to teach you how to make a perfect Croque-Monsieur, a classic French bistro sandwich made with smoked ham and nutty Gruyere cheese.
First of all, you should probably know that April is National Grilled Cheese Month. I am fully supportive of the need to celebrate grilled cheese sandwiches with a month full of “diet starts tomorrow” promises and super-comforting lunches.
To celebrate this month-long event, I wanted to give you a recipe for an international-style grilled cheese sandwich. Because I only like to cook with real cheese, I partnered with REAL® Seal products to bring you this Croque-Monsieur recipe.
When you’re shopping for cheese or other dairy, look for products with the REAL Seal on them. It looks like this:
Now you’ll know that you are cooking with real dairy products and not any kind of imitation!
You don’t want to mess around with imitation cheese when you’re making something as glorious as Croque-Monsieur:
Croque-Monsieur is in many ways the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. You can cook it on a griddle if you want, but I like to make mine in the oven because it seems like less work.
Here’s the basic run-down on how to make the perfect Croque-Monsieur:
- Make the Bechamel sauce (more about this in a moment).
- Preheat your oven and toast your French bread slices.
- Assemble the sandwiches – bread, ham , lots of grated Gruyere cheese, and more bread.
- Smother the entire sandwich with Bechamel sauce and pop it in the oven.
- Serve toasty warm with a really hoppy beer.
My stomach is growling just LOOKING at these pictures again.
Now, I know you’re probably wondering about the Bechamel sauce. Let me explain just what the heck it is.
Bechamel sauce was probably created by whatever the French equivalent of Zeus is, because it must have come straight from the gods. I kid you not, this stuff should probably be put on just about everything.
Making it is as easy as putting together a quick cream sauce – I know, I know, that kind of sounds scary, too, but I promise it isn’t.
Here’s what you do: Melt a tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once it starts to bubble, add a tablespoon of flour. Whisk it into a paste and let it cook for a bit so the flour loses its rawness. Stir in some whole milk, then let it cook until it becomes thick like Alfredo sauce. Remove from heat, stir in some pepper, nutmeg, and a whole bunch of grated Gruyere cheese. Done!
I had a little bit of Bechamel sauce leftover after I smothered my sandwiches with it, so I just grabbed a leftover hunk of French bread and started eating it out of the pan like fondue. I did this very quietly in the kitchen while the Husband was watching TV so he wouldn’t catch on and ask for some. It was MINE! (I can be a bit territorial about my food, okay?)
Okay, now it’s your turn! Ready to make your own?
Here’s Your Recipe!
- 1 Tablespoon salted butter
- 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 4 thick slices of French bread
- ⅛ tsp. ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 4 ounces), divided
- 4 ounces smoked ham, sliced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Melt the butter in your smallest saucepan over medium-low heat. After a few minutes, it will start to bubble. Once you see the bubbles, add the flour and begin to whisk. Cook, whisking, for two to three minutes until smooth and bubbly. Pour the milk in very slowly while continuing to whisk. Cook and whisk for another four or five minutes, until thick.
- Meanwhile, place your bread in the preheated oven and toast three or four minutes per side.
- Once the sauce is thick, turn off the heat and add the nutmeg, black pepper, and a third of the cheese. Set aside.
- Remove the toasted bread from the oven and spread a teaspoon of mustard onto two of the pieces. Lay half of the ham on top of the mustard, followed by half of the remaining cheese. Top the sandwich with another piece of bread, then place on a broiling rack over a baking sheet. Pour the sauce all over the top of the sandwiches, then bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and turn the broiler on to high. Broil for two or three minutes, until the top of the sauce becomes bubbly and browned. Serve warm.