A few days ago, a co-worker and I were talking about croque monsieur ("Mr. Crunch") sandwiches for some reason. That night, she stumbled across a Martha Stewart recipe for one and brought me a copy. I've always loved croque monsieur sandwiches--probably because they remind me of my time in France--and Nate had never had one, so we made them for dinner last week.
Sure, the sandwiches are really just jazzed up grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, but they're really tasty. After my first bite, I actually said out loud, "Oh, it tastes like France!"
Here is the full recipe (we halved everything so we made only two sandwiches. I'm not sure these would be so good as leftovers):
-2 tbs. unsalted butter, but more for spreading, room temperature
-2 tbs. all-purpose flour
-1 cup milk
-1/2 teas. coarse salt
-pinch of each: nutmeg, ground pepper, cayenne pepper
-8 slices rustic French or firm white sandwich bread
-1/4 cup Dijon mustard
-1/2 pound cooked ham, thinly sliced
-1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced, plus 1 cup freshly grated (we ran out of Gruyere and I couldn't find it in two grocery stores, so I settled on emmental cheese)
1. Make bechamel sauce: melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until just starting to bubble. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth but not browned, about 3 minutes.
2. Whisking constantly, slowly add milk; continue cooking while whisking until mixture has thickened, about 3 minutes more. Remove from heat, and add salt, nutmeg, cayenne and black pepper. Transfer to a bowl; place plastic wrap directly on surface of sauce, set aside.
3. Heat broiler. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. Smear one side of bread slices with mustard. Top 4 slices with a layer each of ham and cheese; cover with remaining 4 bread slices, pressing gently to adhere. Generously butter outer sides, spreading it all the way to the edge.
4. Place sandwiches on griddle or in skillet. Cook until golden brown and cheese has melted, 3 to 4 minutes a side. Transfer to work surface; divide bechamel sauce evenly over tops, spreading to edges; sprinkle with grated cheese.
5. Transfer to broiler, and cook until topping is melted and golden, 2 to 3 minutes.