First, let me apologize for being a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad food blogger. Not only have I fallen off the consistent posting wagon, I’ve also been horrible at visiting and commenting on other blogs. Every time I open my Google Reader, I fear my computer may explode. I haven’t had less than 3000 things in there in weeks. Le sigh. I have no excuse other than the fact that I’m pretty sure someone has stolen a few hours of my day and has left me with no time to navigate the food internets!
If I intend to finish my 30 by 30 list in time, I should have about 15 of the items completed by the end of the year. I have, in fact, completed…6. Which means I have a lot of work to do over the next 2 months (well, really, the next 8). This particular item, the croque monsieur, turned out to be the perfect one to scratch off the list a few nights ago. Tom had to work late, which meant I had to pick up the kiddo from daycare and hang with him until it was time for him to go to bed. This didn’t really leave me any time to make dinner (not to mention the husband wasn’t home to eat), so I opted to make something after Zachary had gone to bed for the night (and when I would have some company to eat dinner with). These came together in no time at all, thank goodness, because I was so hungry.
Croque monsieur sounds so much fancier than a ham and cheese sandwich, doesn’t it? Obviously, this is not your standard ham and cheese (although, just so you know, a standard grilled ham and cheese ranks very high on my list of favorite foods). It has gruyere, which is one of the best cheese on the planet, and it’s drenched with bèchamel, which, fascinatingly enough, is one of the best sauces on the planet. It’s then placed under the broiler just long enough for the bèchamel to bubble and brown a bit. Heaven.
I’d love to tell you this is also extremely healthy but clearly it’s not. I did, however, pair it with a simple field green salad with a lemon vinaigrette that I whipped up. This was a nice. light counterpart to the rich sandwich.
2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 Tbsp. flour
2/3 cup whole or 2% milk, warmed
2 Tbsp. pecorino romano
2 oz. + 2 Tbsp. gruyere cheese, divided
freshly ground pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
4 slices white bread
2-4 oz. black forest ham
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour. Whisk/stir until the raw flour is cooked off and you have a light golden color. Slowly add the warmed milk, whisking, and bring the mixture to a low boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and can coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the 2 Tbsp. of gruyere and the romano.
Use the remaining Tbsp. of butter to spread on the 4 slices of bread. Add half the ham and half the remaining gruyere to each sandwich (keeping the buttered sides of the bread on the outside). Heat a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the sandwiches. Cook until golden brown on each side.
Preheat the broiler. Place the sandwiches on a broiler safe pan/dish (if you use cast iron for grilling the sandwiches, you can just use that). Spoon half the bèchamel sauce over each sandwich and broil for about 2-3 minutes until the sauce bubbles and browns a bit.