Croque Monsieur Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Years ago, a French friend of mine introduced me to Croque-Monsieur, the French version of a toasted ham and Swiss sandwich. I remember it being loaded with butter and cheese, and absolutely the most delicious sandwich in the world. My friend was somewhat addicted to these sandwiches, and after having one myself I could see why. Gruyère cheese and ham just belong together. According to About.com the word croque comes from the verb croquer or “to crunch”. So a Croque-Monsieur roughly translates to “Mister Crunchy”. The feminine version, a “Croque Madam”, includes a fried egg on top. This classic French bistro sandwich is a great way to use up leftover ham.

Croque Monsieur Ham and Cheese Sandwich Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 4 sandwiches.
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • A pinch each of salt, freshly ground pepper, nutmeg, or more to taste
  • 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups grated)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (packed)
  • 8 slices of French or Italian loaf bread
  • 12 ounces ham, sliced
  • Dijon mustard

Method

1 Preheat oven to 400°F.

2 Make the béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium/low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick. Remove from heat. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the grated Gruyère. Set aside.

3 Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, a few minutes each side, until lightly toasted. For extra flavor you can spread some butter on the bread slices before you toast them if you want.

(Alternatively, you can assemble the sandwiches as follows in step four and grill them on a skillet, finishing them in the broiler with the bechamel sauce.)

4 Lightly brush half of the toasted slices with mustard. Add the ham slices and about 1 cup of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Top with the other toasted bread slices.

5 Spoon on the béchamel sauce to the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère cheese. Place on a broiling pan. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

If you top this sandwich with a fried egg it becomes a Croque Madame.

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Adapted from several recipes, including one by Debra Weber of About.com and Ina Garten.

Links:

Croque-Monsieur: The Incriminating Ham Sandwich from the Paupered Chef
Pear and Brie Croque Monsieur by Oswego Tea
Feeding the Masses: Croque Monsieurs by Ms. Glaze's Pommes d'Amour

Showing 4 of 38 Comments

  • Richard Leader

    I think what is key to this is good ham – I’ve had too many croque monsieur (what is the plural? croques monsieur?) with cheap plasticy ham. Good ham, good cheese, good bread, good bechamel…
    Your photo has got me hungry…

  • Liz

    This sounds like a great winter lunch – and since we got snow here last night that should last the next few days, it still feels like winter. I will have to give this a try – thanks for all of the great ideas Elise!

  • jonathan

    *speechless*

    Question…

    Is this on my diet?

    Must be strong…must be strong….must be…

  • chefjustin

    You’re exactly right about the quality of the ham, Richard. I recommend a nice Rosemary flavored ham. Also, the bread is very important; try to find a nice Brioche, you’ll be glad you did.

    Bread with bechamel?!? That’s a bit over the top. I prefer to shred some Gruyere and toss it in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of heavy cream, some salt & pepper then pour that on top. It soaks through the center of the bread and makes it’s own sauce when it hits the mustard and butter inside the sandwich.

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