There are quite a few renditions of croque monsieur out there. I've had one in the form of a grilled cheese sandwich where I looked at my husband and go "WTH is this?" hahaha! I can't help it, I like what I like. This one is by far my favorite way to prepare this delightful dish. This would be so lovely to serve for a Sunday brunch, with a fresh bed of lightly dressed mixed greens and paired with a crisp glass of Champagne. Doesn't that just sound magical?
Ingredients: Serves 4
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. whole milk
2 T. whole grain mustard
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (highly recommend fresh!)
8 slices thick country-style bread
(don't even try this with regular sliced bread, it will not hold up.)
6 oz. ham, good ham. No Oscar Meyer! (head straight to the deli counter)
3 oz. Gruyere, grated (1 1/2c.)
1 tsp. herbs de Provence
bechamel - 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 the 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. (This can be made a day ahead of time. Let cool; then press plastic wrap directly onto bechamel and chill.)
assembly - Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread bread slices with bechamel, dividing evenly and extending all the way to the edges. Place 4 slices of bread, bechamel side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet; top with ham and half of cheese. Top with remaining slice of bread, bechamel side up, then top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with herbs de Provence. Bake until cheese is brown and bubbling, 10-15 minutes. While the toasts are bubbling away, grab a medium sized non-stick pan, crack the 4 eggs and gently cook till over-easy. You want the egg yolk to be runny. Top each of the toasts with the egg and serve alongside some simple mixed greens, lightly dressed with a champagne vinaigrette.