My dad, like most, was not first in line to start texting. “You can just pick up the phone and call someone,” he would say, Dad-ly.
But the future catches up with us all. A few months ago, this happened:
Although I did not immediately run out and procure sandwich ingredients, it stuck in my mind as “something I need to east soon.” So when I saw a Croque-Monsieur recipe in the latest Bon Appétit, along with a béchamel tutorial, I decided it was a sign.
Good news, everyone: this is a really easy sandwich to make. The thick, country style bread is spread with creamy béchamel sauce (with a hint of mustard), then topped with ham and Gruyere cheese before being baked. The result lies on the “life changing” tier, somewhere between “discovering goat cheese” and “buying a coffee grinder.” Don’t be intimidated by the béchamel! It involves a good bit of stirring and whisking, but comes together quickly and easily.
You can even make the sauce and assemble the sandwiches the day before, then just pop them in the oven 15 minutes before you want to eat them. We ate these two days in a row and found that sitting overnight gave the flavors time to develop.
The first thing I did after making these sandwiches was text a picture to my dad. He promptly one-upped me.
CHEESE IN THE SAUCE, YOU GUYS.
I’ve included the original recipe below, but I will never make it again without adding cheese to the sauce. I suggest you do the same.
(Bon Appétit, May 2014) – Recipe by Jody Williams
- I plan to re-make these but add half a cup of Gruyere to the béchamel, per my dad’s instructions. I don’t think you can go wrong with additional cheese.
- I used dijon mustard in absence of whole-grain mustard.
- These really do taste better after sitting overnight, which is good for you since they’re so easy to prep ahead of time.
- ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ¼ ground nutmeg
- Kosher salt
- 8 slices ½”-thick country-style bread
- 6 oz. ham, preferably Paris ham (about 8 slices)
- 3 oz. Gruyère, grated (about 1½ cups)
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add flour and cook, stirring, until mixture is pale and foamy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring until mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thick and somewhat elastic, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and nutmeg; season with salt.
DO AHEAD: Béchamel can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool; press plastic wrap directly onto surface and chill.
Preheat oven to 425°. Spread bread slices with béchamel, dividing evenly and extending all the way to the edges. Place 4 slices of bread, béchamel side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet; top with ham and half of cheese. Top with remaining slices of bread, béchamel side up, then top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with herbes de Provence. Bake until cheese is brown and bubbling, 10–15 minutes.
DO AHEAD: Sandwiches can be made (but not baked) 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.