Picture yourself in a Parisian café, nursing a glass of white wine as the waiter arrives with what may be the perfect French lunchtime indulgence — a Croque Monsieur. It’s really just a fancy name for a toasted ham and cheese sandwich but it’s so much more than that. It’s been a favorite since the early 1900s and is so insanely rich and decadent, you’ll need a knife and fork to eat it. There’s ham and cheese on the inside but what sets this sandwich apart is that it’s topped with a cheesy Mornay sauce and then toasted until hot and bubbly. It’s like luxury on bread.
If you add a fried egg on top of a Croque Monsieur, you get a Croque Madame.
Prep and cook time for this meal is quicker than most recipes.
Add milk to a small pan on medium heat. Warm thoroughly but do not bring to a boil. Set aside.
In a separate pan, melt the butter.
Add the flour and stir until it becomes a paste.
Cook for 2 minutes on medium-low heat.
Slowly add the warm milk, stirring constantly.
Within a few minutes, it should be thickened and bubbling.
Add the salt and pepper.
Remove from the heat and stir in both cheeses.
After they are both melted, taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter one side of each slice of bread.
Spread the mustard on the non-buttered side of two of the bread slices.
On low heat, in a large, oven-safe skillet, put the two slices of bread with the mustard butter-side down.
Sprinkle a layer of gruyere over the mustard for each slice of bread. Then add 3-4 slices of ham to each. Add another layer of Gruyère to each. Top each with the remaining slices of bread, butter-side up.
Cook for a few minutes and then gently flip over.
Cook for another few minutes and then take the skillet off of the heat.
Spread 1 tablespoon of Mornay sauce on the top of each sandwich. Sprinkle on any remaining Gruyère.
Bake until the cheese is melted, and the sandwich is warmed through.
If you want a golden topping, you can put them under the broiler for a minute.
Because these sandwiches are so rich, cut them in half and arrange them on a serving platter. Serve alongside a lightly dressed salad or some fresh fruit, like sliced melon.
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