The French pioneered such an array of culinary techniques, it only seems natural that they’d come up with a sandwich that's packed with flavor both outside and in. The croque monsieur is a ubiquity in French cafés, where it began appearing in the early 1900s. Essentially a grilled ham and cheese with béchamel broiled on top, the croque monsieur changed the game by making it okay to eat a sandwich with a fork and knife. Our version keeps things classic; a simple sandwich that's the perfect showcase for good Gruyère and ham.
preparation & ingredients
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Add the garlic, shallot, bay leaf, thyme, and milk to a small saucepan, and heat until just boiling. Turn off the heat, and let the aromatics steep in the milk for at least 5 minutes.
In another small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and, whisking frequently, cook until the flour turns light brown. Strain the milk into the flour and butter mixture, and turn the heat to low. Continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Assemble the sandwiches, dividing the cheese and ham among the four sandwiches evenly. Place on a sheet tray, and bake until the cheese has just melted.
To finish, spoon about 1/4 cup of béchamel on top of each sandwich, then place under a broiler and cook until the béchamel begins to bubble and brown.