- May 2021
- Serves 2
- Hands-on time 10 minutes
Learn how to make a classic French croque monsieur with our easy recipe. Soft white bread is baked with smoked ham, gooey Gruyère cheese and bechamel sauce to make the ultimate toasted cheese sandwich.
- 37.2g (21.9g saturated)
- 55.4g (9.1g sugars)
- 30g unsalted butter, plus a little more, softened, for buttering
- 1 shallot, very finely diced
- 1 small bay leaf
- 30g plain flour
- 280ml whole milk
- 1 tsp dijon mustard, plus more for spreading on the toast
- A few gratings of nutmeg
- 2 thick slices of really good ham, smoked if you prefer it
- 100g gruyère or comté cheese, or a mixture of the two, grated
- 4 slices of white bread, with the crusts cut off
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low-medium heat, then toss in the shallot and bay leaf. Fry gently until the shallot is just soft, which should take about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle on the flour and stir in well, cooking it for 3-4 minutes, then slowly pour in the milk, stirring all the time so there are no lumps. When it’s all smooth, simmer it for a few minutes to thicken – you want it quite thick – then take it off the heat and stir in the 1 tsp mustard and the nutmeg. Taste and season with salt and pepper – it’s important the béchamel is well seasoned, so don’t stint.
- Turn up the oven to 200°C fan/gas 7 and line a baking tray with foil or compostable baking paper. Next, heat the grill, butter the bread on one side and toast it buttered-side up until golden.
- Now it’s time to get building. Put 2 bread slices, toasted-side down, in the baking tray and spread all the untoasted sides of the bread with mustard. Spread some of the béchamel on the slices in the tray, then lay on the ham and sprinkle on some cheese. Put another toast slice on top of each, mustard-side down, spread on some more béchamel and sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Bake until the toasts bubble volcanically (about 12 minutes). Cool slightly, then devour.
The right slice: Debora says I’ve tried all kinds of bread for this and my conclusion is that a decent, soft sliced white is by far the best. Chewy sourdough pulls focus too much. The job of the bread in a croque monsieur is to hold everything else together in an act of noble self-sacrifice, without excessively drawing attention to itself.”
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