Croque-Monsieur

Yields: 2 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 15 Mins Cook Time: 20 Mins Total Time: 35 Mins

Here’s a Parisian favorite at cafés for lunch or supper after an evening on the town. It’s said to have been created at a little café on the Boulevard des Capucines shortly after the end of World War I.  The sandwich is layered with slices of baked ham and Swiss cheese, and baked under a coverlet of Gruyère-flavored béchamel (white) sauce until golden and bubbly. The bread used in the original recipe may have been a brioche, but I feel this makes the sandwich too rich, so I suggest half a baguette cut in half or, even more authentic, two slices of firm white bread.

Ingredients

0/10 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
    For the sandwiches
  • For the béchamel sauce

Instructions

0/4 Instructions
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Prepare the sandwich: Have ready an overproof dish that will hold the two sandwiches. Lay 2 slices of ham on each of two slices of toast and top with two slices of cheese. Close the sandwiches with the second slice of toast and place in the ovenproof dish.
  • Prepare the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy 1-quart saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring with a wire whisk or wooden spoon, until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute. Don't allow the mixture to brown. Raise the heat to medium and slowly stir in the milk, whisking until the sauce boils. Continue to whisk or stir until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat.
  • Spread half the sauce on the top of each sandwich. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake in the center of the oven until the cheese has melted and the sauce is golden brown, 15-20 minutes. To serve, transfer the sandwiches to two warmed plates. Optional: You may garnish with tomatoes and parsley sprigs.

Notes

Meal ideas:

Lunch or supper: Add a crunchy salad of mixed lettuces, shredded red cabbage, and matchstick strips of green pepper dressed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a little grated onion.

Wine:  A chilled rosé from Provence or a simple Beaujolais make a delightful sipping.

Low-Fat Plan: Make the sandwich with low-fat ham and a low-fat cheese. For the béchamel sauce, use 1 tbsp canola oil, 1 tbsp flour, and 1 cup hot skim milk. Season well with salt, pepper, and a dash or 2 of hot pepper sauce or ground hot pepper. Omit the final sprinkling of cheese.

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