The first time I had a proper Croque-monsieur was when visiting Paris with an ex boyfriend aged 18. I came home not in love with him but rather so with the delicious-ness that is far more than a simple cheese and ham sarnie, yet which is still very simple to make.
It IS simple to create at home but I have ordered them in this country and they are just not right. A béchamel cheese sauce is the one ingredient that MAKES this sandwich and the one ingredient that most seem to forget about. This renders it a lowly ‘ham and cheese’ and let’s face it, what’s exciting about that?
This is how I make mine – probably not 100% authentic but more so than you will find in most cafés in the UK I’m sure!
Gruyère cheese – grated (I also use Gouda for a different flavour sometimes)
Gruyère cheese – sliced (again, sometimes I use Gouda)
Hard Italian cheese – grated
Thick sliced white bread
2 thirds of a pint of full fat milk
50g slightly salted butter
50 plain flour
Good quality thick cut ham
To make the béchamel sauce melt the butter over a low heat and add the flour to make a paste before slowly adding the milk and whisking all the time until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Add a handful of both cheeses and a teaspoon of the mustard as this will bring out the flavour of the cheese.
Grill your bread on one side until toasted and on the other only until slightly crisp then on one slice, on the lightly toasted side, spread dijon mustard to the very edges. Add a slice of cheese and a slice of ham to the mustard and put the other slice, lightly toasted side down, on top.
Slater the top of the bread with the sauce generously and top with some more grated cheese before grilling until the mixture bubbles and slightly browns. And that’s it, to me this tastes like a perfect Croque-monsieur!
Delicious, even if I do say so myself!