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:
- Pour milk into a cold medium-sized saucepan and warm over medium heat until bubbling
- 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
- Add flour and stir for 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour flavor
- 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:
- Butter both sides of the bread and grill on both sides in a frying pan or skillet
- On one slice, spread a thin layer of dijon mustard, then add several slices of ham
- Spread a thin layer of béchamel on top of the ham, then cover with a layer of the grated cheese
- Place the other slice of bread on top, spread another layer of béchamel, then another layer of grated cheese
- Place in a 400° oven for 5 minutes to melt cheese
- 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
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!