Croque Monsieur

Have you ever wondered what could make a ham & cheese sandwich better? Béchamel can do that.

The Croque Monsieur is the classic French café sandwich that is just that: Crunchy, buttery, cheesy, and a bit extravagant ham and cheese sandwich toasted to perfection. Caramelized cheese on top, melted cheese and ham with a rich buttery sauce in the middle, what’s not to love?

There are a few things you need to know to pull this one off without making a soggy mess, but trust me, it’s not hard. This is a staple that you will want time and time again once you experience it.

Ingredients for Béchamel:

  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of Port wine

Ingredients for Sandwich:

  • Brioche, Sourdough, or other high quality bread
  • Ham (must be of high quality)
  • Gruyère or Emmental Cheese, grated
  • Dijon mustard

To make Béchamel:

  1. Pour milk into a cold medium-sized saucepan and warm over medium heat until bubbling
  2. Once milk is bubbling, add butter to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until it is completely melted, but do not let it brown
  3. Add flour and stir for 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour flavor
  4. Slowly pour in the hot milk into the butter mixture and stir constantly over medium heat. Stir in the Port. Stir regularly to prevent burning the milk. Sauce will be ready when it covers the back of a spoon when dipped, about 15 minutes total

To make the sandwich:

  1. Butter both sides of the bread and grill on both sides in a frying pan or skillet
  2. On one slice, spread a thin layer of dijon mustard, then add several slices of ham
  3. Spread a thin layer of béchamel on top of the ham, then cover with a layer of the grated cheese
  4. Place the other slice of bread on top, spread another layer of béchamel, then another layer of grated cheese
  5. Place in a 400° oven for 5 minutes to melt cheese
  6. Turn on broiler to brown cheese on top, 3-4 minutes total

I know this may sound confusing; the list below starts at the bottom (first piece of bread) and builds up

  1. Bread
  2. Mustard
  3. Ham
  4. Béchamel
  5. Cheese
  6. Bread
  7. Béchamel
  8. Cheese

Notes to make the perfect Croque Monsieur:

Make sure to toast both sides of the bread in the frying pan. This keeps the mustard, cheese and béchamel from absorbing into the bread and making it soggy.

You do not want to make this sandwich ahead of time for the same reasons above.

I find it best to either make the bread from scratch or buy an artisan loaf and cut it when you need it.

Don’t overload the sandwich filling with too much meat and cheese, as once this is melted, it can be very messy to handle. Usually, three slices of ham and a thin layer of béchamel and cheese are all that is needed. The Croque Monsieur is a calorie and flavor dense sandwich, so there is no need to make it any bigger.

This sandwich is easier to eat if you slice it in half.

This is a perfect brunch or lunch option. Serve with a side salad and vinaigrette, and coffee or wine.

Please let me know if you try this sandwich and your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe! Enjoy!

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Baked Spaghetti in Béchamel

Everybody is familiar with the classic spaghetti and tomato sauce. What can you do if you want something a little more extravagant? Add béchamel and provolone and bake until golden brown. Simply delicious.

Béchamel is one of the five French mother sauces that is of Italian origin. This creamy, buttery sauce adds depth and flavor to an already delicious dish.

I’ll show you how to make the béchamel and tomato sauce so you can make this outstanding version of a classic at home. Makes 4 servings.

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 cups of passata (tomato sauce)
  • 1/2 of a white onion, diced fine
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
  1. In a medium sized saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat for several minutes
  2. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes
  3. Add garlic and dried basil and cook for 1 minute
  4. Add passata, bring to a boil, and lower heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally

For the Béchamel:

  • 2-1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Herbes de Provence
  1. Pour milk into a cold medium-sized saucepan, add Herbes de Provence, and warm over medium heat until bubbling
  2. Once milk is bubbling, add butter to a large saucepan and heat over medium-high until it foams, but do not let it brown
  3. Add flour and stir for 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour flavor
  4. Slowly pour in the hot milk into the butter mixture and stir constantly. Bring up to a boil again, and turn the heat down to medium for 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and will cover the back of a spoon when dipped. Stir regularly to prevent burning the milk.

You will also need:

  • 1/2 pound of ground beef (optional)
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 pound (1/2 a standard box) of spaghetti noodles cooked al denté
  • 2-3 slices of provolone cheese
  1. Brown the beef in a large skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add mushrooms and balsamic vinegar, and cook until the mushrooms have browed, about 7 minutes
  2. Taste and season accordingly, then add to tomato sauce and allow to simmer while preparing noodles and béchamel

To bring it all together:

  1. Right before you pour the noodles into a colander, take a large spoonful or two of the pasta water and stir into the tomato sauce. At this point the tomato sauce has reduced and thickened, so this will bring it to the right consistency and help the sauce and noodles stick together.
  2. Pour the drained noodles into the tomato sauce and stir to coat all noodles, and let simmer for several minutes to allow the noodles to absorb some of the sauce.
  3. Pour the noodles and sauce into a casserole dish and level with a spoon. Ladle over the béchamel and smooth with a clean spoon.
  4. Chop or crumble the provolone slices into small pieces, and spread in an even layer on top of the béchamel.
  5. Place on the center rack of a 400° oven for 20 minutes to melt cheese.
  6. Turn on broiler for 3-4 minutes to brown the top.

Notes:

You do not have to add the beef and mushrooms as I did, this recipe is delicious with or without.

You can also make this with a prepared pasta sauce if you want to save that step, but making this sauce is very easy and much more flavorful.

This recipe is an excellent way to use leftover spaghetti from the day before. All you have to do is make the béchamel and spread over the spaghetti, add cheese, and bake as listed above.

Please let me know if you like this recipe in the comments below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe! Enjoy!

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