I wanted to share one of my favorite French meals – Croque Monsieur. It’s similar to a French grilled cheese with ham but is baked and broiled to deliciousness. I loved grabbing these for lunch when I studied in Paris. Although not great if you’re on a diet, they’re an amazing meal when you’re looking for something a little different and it’s relatively easy to make for a French recipe, many of which can be very complicated.
This recipe is pretty simple, adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris. I paired it with a side salad made up of leftover veggies. To avoid having fresh vegetables go bad, I throw them together with a little bit of my homemade balsamic vinaigrette (recipe to come). Even if you’re short on lettuce, summer veggies make a great side to a heavy meal.
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups hot milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- 8+ ounces Gruyere, grated
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 8 slices fresh bread (I used whole grain from the bakery)
- Dijon mustard
- 1/4 lb. ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced 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 2 slices 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.