Croque Monsieur – the ultimate ham & cheese sandwich!


Croque Monsieur is a hot ham and cheese sandwich, done the French way! Béchamel sauce, ham, cheese and a smear of Dijon mustard, grilled until it’s oozing, this sandwich is the king of grilled cheeses!

Look away if you’re dieting: this recipe calls for not one, not two, but THREE different types of cheese. If we’re going to make this, let’s go all the way and do it right! To all the French readers out there – let me know how I did?? 😊

Croque Monsieur

If there is one thing I think you can count on with the French when it comes to cooking, it’s their knack for taking things up a notch in the grand pursuit of edible bliss. Usually – and quite rightly! – this involves the addition of (more) butter, (more) cream, (more) cheese or simply (more) flavour!

Take the humble grilled ham and cheese sandwich. While the rest of the world will slap a piece of ham and cheese between two bits of floppy bread and call it lunch, the French are dining on THIS:

Need further convincing? I submit the following!

  • Paris Mash – The world’s most ridiculously decadent mashed potato;

  • Potato Dauphinoise – A simple potato bake, but hit with lashings of cream and cheese!;

  • Beef Bourguignon – Arguably the king of all stews, packed with flavours of red wine, bacon and rich, lip-smacking beef stock!

  • French Onion Soup – Who else but the French would insist on standing around stirring onions at the stove for an hour to extract maximum possible flavour?


OK, so I share those thoughts in jest! The true origins of Croque Monsieur actually remain largely unknown. Tales range from French workers who left their lunch boxes too close to a hot radiator, to a Parisian bistro owner who had to improvise when he ran out of baguettes (hard to imagine in France!)

Whether borne of an accident or the mind of an ingenious French chef, we can all agree a world with Croque Monsieur in it is a happier place (though my butt may not agree!)

What you need for Croque Monsieur

Here’s what you need to make Croque Monsieur. Yes, it’s more than just bread, ham and cheese – see my opening statements! 😂

1. Bechamel Sauce

For our béchamel sauce, we need:

  • Cream and milk – You could substitute the cream with more milk if you want, but it will reduce the richness of the béchamel! Richness = goodness … 😂;

  • Butter and flour – The basis for our roux, which thickens our béchamel sauce; and

  • Nutmeg and pepper – A touch of spicing for our béchamel. A dash of nutmeg complements a béchamel beautifully.

2. Croque Monsieur sandwich

And here’s what we need for the rest of our Croque Monsieur:

  • Ham – Preferably smoked (who doesn’t love smoked ham?), but any ham is good here.

  • Gruyere and Swiss cheese – The main cheeses! Gruyere is an Alpine cheese from Switzerland. It has a pleasantly sweet and nutty flavour, and melts well, making it an ideal choice for a Croque Monsieur.

    “Swiss cheese” is a generic name for mass-produced cheese made in the style of Alpine cheeses, specifically milder emmental cheese. We use it here as it conveniently comes in sliced form for sandwiches, and it’s also cheaper than the real stuff.

    Feel free to use just Swiss cheese, or just gruyere (or other Alpine cheeses, eg. comté , emmental) – or a mix! It’s all up to your budget, what you have and what you like. Gruyere, Comté and Emmental are on the pricier end here in Australia whereas cheeses sold as “Swiss cheese” are better value and have excellent flavour;

  • Parmesan – Alpine cheeses are relatively mild, so parmesan boosts the savoury oomph and saltiness to just where we want it, as well as giving the top of the Croque Monsieur a gorgeous crusty golden crown;

  • Dijon mustard – Superb in any ham and cheese sandwich, and no exception here! It brings some welcome tang and another flavour layer to the sandwich; and

  • Butter – For pan-searing our Croque Monsieur in buttery goodness before it’s finished in the oven!

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