Pin It The Croque Monsieur, or “Crispy Mister,” appeared on Parisian café menus in 1910. The original Croque Monsieur was simply a hot ham and Gruyere cheese sandwich, fried in butter. Some believe it was accidentally created when French workers left their lunch pails by a hot radiator and came back later to discover the cheese in their sandwiches had melted.
Found all over France today, the Croque Monsieur - casually referred to as a Croque - has as many recipes and variations as it has cooks. I like mine fancy, with a nice Mornay Sauce* on top! It is second on my list only to the Reuben which is, hands down, my all time favorite. (the Pulled Pork sandwich is not far behind!)
This crunchy sandwich is served as an appetizer, snack, or casual meal. Try this recipe for an incredible experience. Bon appetit!
A nice double espresso should get you through the afternoon!
Serves 4 for a meal or 8 for a snack
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread.
Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot
*A Mornay sauce is a Béchamel sauce with shredded or grated cheese added. Usually, it consists of half Gruyère and half Parmesan cheese, though some variations use different combinations of Gruyère, Emmenthal cheese, or white Cheddar