Have you ever had a dish that you had heard of all your life and you really wanted to make it, but you never got around to it?
Well, this is mine.
Heard about it. Seen it. Ordered it before. Never made it.
The thing is, I’ve always been a little (a lot) intimidated by French cuisine. I’m FAR from being classically trained. I’m not trained at all – except by my mom, my graondmothers, and Food Network. I can make a bechamel sauce like nobody’s business – because it’s basically just what we Southerners call “milk gravy.”
And since this recipe starts with a bechamel, I figured, “Why not?” What’s the worst that can happen? If it’s horrible, nobody will eat it and I won’t make it again.
It wasn’t horrible.
Far from it. It was wonderful and luxurious and velvety and rich and delicious…and I’ll be making this again!
- Texas toast
- Dijon mustard
- Black Forest ham (deli slices, cut into 1/2-inch strips)
- 16 oz. of shredded gruyere (Monterey Jack, if you can’t find gruyere)
- 2 teaspoons of Herb de Provence
- 4 Tablespoons of butter
- 3 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
Heat oven to broil. Cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil. In a bowl, combine cheese and Herb de Provence. Set aside.
In a skillet or sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for a few minutes to cook out the flour taste. Do NOT brown this mixture. Add thyme and cook for one minute. Add milk and increase heat, whisking constantly, until thickened to a gravy consistency. Remove from heat.
Spread each slice of bread with a thin layer of mustard and place mustard-side up on the sheet pan. Top with ham and 1/4 cup of cheese. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the bechamel sauce over each piece and top with enough cheese to cover.
Broil for 2-3 minutes – or until cheese is brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil to keep the sandwiches warm.
In a skillet, pour oil and fry eggs (enough for one egg for each open-faced sandwich). Leave the yolk runny. Top each sandwich with an egg and enjoy!
Well Duh #1: I couldn’t find gruyere. Well, that’s kind of a lie. Some friends told me I could find it at Kroger. I went there, couldn’t find a parking spot that wasn’t out in Eastern Siberia, and I gave up. I used Monterey Jack. It was yummy.
Well Duh #2: DO NOT walk away from the oven while you’re broiling the sandwiches. Bad things will happen. Quickly. And there’s no going back.
Well Duh #3: If you don’t like runny eggs, fry yours a little longer to set the yolk. It won’t be the classic dish, but I won’t tell if you won’t.
Well Duh #4: Don’t like eggs at all? Leave it off. That’s a Croque Monsieur!
Well Duh #5: You need some kind of sturdy bread that can hold up to fairly heavy toppings. I chose Texas toast because I couldn’t find an artisan bread that I felt was sturdy enough. I think sour dough would be fantastic!
Well Duh #6: Herb de Provence is just a spice blend. I actually found mine at Walmart. If you can’t find it, it’s readily available online. It’s not a deal-breaker. If you don’t find it or don’t want to, just leave it out.
Well Duh #7: This recipe is enough cheese and bechamel for EIGHT Croque Madames/Monsieurs. My family ate two each. We like food.
This was universally loved by the tribe. Gobbled up. Plates licked. Well, the tribe didn’t lick the plates. But the dogs wanted to!
Try this fancy ham and cheese sandwich for yourself. That’s really all it is! It’s just a fancy ham and cheese! Once the bechamel was done, it totally took 5 minutes to make!
Try something new!