This recipe swap was themed "celebrity chef" recipes. It could come from a magazine, book or TV show, as long as the recipe was from a celebrity chef. What recipe would I receive? Would it be an appetizer, main course, dessert? Would it be Italian, Mexican, Indian ethnic food? Which celebrity chef would it come from? The possibilities were endless.
As it turns out, my recipe came from Ina Garten, courtesy of Jey from The Jey of Cooking. I must admit, when I first saw that my recipe was for Croque Monsieur sandwiches, I got mixed up and thought I would be making Monte Cristo sandwiches and was excited because I really liked Monte Cristo sandwiches. Then I realized I was thinking of the wrong sandwich — but in my defense, they are similar: a Monte Cristo is a fried ham-and-cheese sandwich; a Croque Monsieur is a grilled or baked ham-and-cheese sandwich.
Despite my mix-up and initial (minor) disappointment, these sandwiches were delicious. This recipe is easy to make and takes less than 30 minutes, even if you grate your own cheese. If you're not a mustard fan, don't be put off by its inclusion, it does not have a strong presence in the final dish. Do try to find Black Forest ham. It has a particular flavor that "regular" smoked ham does not.
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cups hot milk (microwaved for 2 minutes)
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg (fresh is better, but ground is fine)
- 5 cups (12 ounces) Gruyere cheese, grated
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 8 thick slices white bread
- Dijon mustard
- 1 lb Black Forest ham, sliced medium-thin
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with tin foil and spray with non-stick spray.
- Set a saucepan over low heat and melt the butter. Add in the flour, and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
- Slowly stir in the hot milk, and continue cooking and stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.
- Turn off the heat and add in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, Parmesan, and ½ cup of the Gruyere cheese. Set aside.
- Place the bread slices on the sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes. Flip the bread over and bake another 2 minutes.
- Remove from the oven but don't turn off the heat. Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on four of the slices. Divide the ham among the four slices of bread. Take half of the remaining Gruyere cheese and place on top of the ham. Top each with a plain slice of toasted bread.
- Spoon one quarter of the cheese sauce over each sandwich, then sprinkle the remaining Gruyere cheese over each sandwich.
- Bake for an additional five minutes, then turn the broiler on high and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, watching carefully so that the cheese browns but does not burn.