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The croque monsieur, literally translating to “Mister Crunch” in French, is a timeless and delightful toasted sandwich. It features layers of melty cheese, savory ham, and a creamy béchamel sauce, all nestled between slices of golden brown bread. This recipe isn’t just for fancy cafes; it’s surprisingly simple to make at home, perfect for a light lunch, satisfying snack, or a comforting weekend brunch.

Ingredients:

Croque monsieur
Croque monsieur

For the Béchamel Sauce:

  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 300ml whole milk (you can substitute with semi-skimmed milk for a lighter option)
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • For the Sandwich:
  • 4 slices good quality white bread (brioche, sourdough, or challah work well too)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 150g thinly sliced ham (cooked)
  • 150g grated Gruyère cheese (or a mix of Gruyère and Emmental)
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened

  • Directions:

    1. Make the Béchamel Sauce:

  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted and slightly foamy, whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. This roux will form the base of the sauce.
  • 2. Whisk in the Milk Gradually:

  • Gradually whisk in the milk, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Make sure there are no lumps. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • 3. Thicken the Sauce:

  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes, whisking frequently, until the sauce thickens and becomes smooth and glossy. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • 4. Assemble the Sandwiches:

  • Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on one side of each bread slice.
  • 5. Layer Up:

  • On two of the slices, spread half the grated cheese. Top each with half the sliced ham. Divide the remaining cheese between the other two slices.
  • 6. Prepare for Toasting:

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt half the butter. Place two sandwiches, mustard-side down, in the pan.
  • 7. Cook Until Golden Brown:

  • Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until the bread is golden brown and crispy. Repeat with the remaining butter and sandwiches.
  • 8. The Final Touch:

  • Once toasted, spoon some of the warm béchamel sauce over each sandwich. Place the sandwiches on a baking tray and broil under a preheated grill for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

  • Nutrition Facts:

    (Per Serving – Approximately 1 Sandwich)

    Calories: 550

  • Fat: 35g
  • Saturated Fat: 20g
  • Carbohydrates: 45g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Protein: 25g
  • Sodium: 800mg (depending on the ham and cheese used)

  • Please note: This is an approximate nutritional value based on the ingredients used.

    Conclusion

    The croque monsieur is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed hot or cold. Leftovers can be reheated in a pan or toaster oven until warmed through and crispy. For an extra special touch, serve it with a side salad, cornichons (pickled gherkins), or a fried egg on top, transforming it into a croque madame (Mister Madam).

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Can I use a different type of cheese?

    Absolutely! While Gruyère and Emmental are traditional choices, you can experiment with other melty cheeses like Comté, Jarlsberg, or even a mature cheddar.

    2. What if I don’t have Dijon mustard?

    No problem! You can use any type of mustard you have on hand, such as wholegrain, English mustard, or even a touch of mayonnaise.

    3. Is there a vegetarian option?

    Of course! Simply omit the ham and add roasted vegetables like peppers, onions, or mushrooms to your sandwich.

    4. Can I make the béchamel sauce in advance?