Croque Monsieur (French Ham & Cheese Sandwich)

 Croque Monsieur

Leave it to the French to take a ham and cheese sandwich and turn it into a gourmet delight!  By using top-quality ingredients like brioche bread, Gruyere cheese and Virginia ham, a mundane dish is totally transformed.  With that transformation, it becomes something you can serve as an elegant lunch or supper - and it’s surprisingly easy to do.

4 slices brioche bread (you may substitute a good quality sandwich bread)
5 or 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
2 or 4 slices Virginia ham (depending on thickness)
Mustard of your choice
2 or 3 tablespoons of butter
1½ tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small saucepan, whisk in the flour and cook for 2 or 3 minutes to eliminate the floury taste.  Gradually add the milk, whisking continuously.  Bring to a simmer and stir until the sauce thickens.  Add about half of the grated Gruyere cheese and whisk until it is melted, add the grated Parmesan and whisk until it is melted.  Set the sauce aside.

Assemble the sandwiches by spreading two of the bread slices with the mustard, top with the ham slices and then most of the Gruyere cheese (reserve a little to top the sandwiches at the end) and cover with the last two slices of bread.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet, add the sandwiches and sauté until lightly browned, turn, adding more butter if necessary, and brown on the second side.  Transfer the sandwiches to ovenproof dishes, cover each with half of the sauce and sprinkle with the last of the Gruyere.  Bake for about 5 minutes until the sauce is bubbly.  If desired, broil for a minute or two to brown lightly.

Serve with a mixed green salad and perhaps a glass of a dry white wine!  Enjoy..

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