Dear Lord, was this good. The nuttiness of the Gruyère cheese paired with the crunch of toasted bread and the creaminess of the sauce, was all almost too much for me to handle. I smiled, and then I cried, and then I smiled again.
While this might not be the spicy, crowd pleasing favorite for football crazed fans at your Superbowl party this weekend, it is perfect for sending those guys out to watch the game somewhere else and curling up on the couch with the girls and a handful of rom coms, like It's Complicated where Meryl Streep makes a dish just like this for Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. Oh and magazines and chocolate.
Side note: Guys will totally love this too, they just might have a hard time getting past the thought of "French food" on game day. Also, it goes perfectly paired with a simple salad of mixed baby greens and your favorite vinaigrette.
To start, slice a loaf of French bread into thick pieces and grate up some Gruyère cheese. Then melt the butter in a sauce pan and whisk in the flour. Next, whisk in hot milk until the sauce becomes smooth, bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until it thickens. At this point, I grabbed a couple of handfuls of the Gruyère cheese that I had already grated and whisked that in to the sauce. Another small handful of the cheese may or may not have made it's way into my mouth as well.
Then, after lining a baking sheet with parchment paper, I laid out the sliced bread, covered with thin sliced ham and topped evenly with the remaining cheese. Oh, mama.
By the way, this is not a low-calorie food. It's a creamy slice of heaven is what it is. After spreading the cheese, I added generous spoonfuls of the béchamel sauce. If I were to do this again, I'd add the sauce first and then the cheese... because once it's cooked, the sauce tends to slide right off of the bread if tipped. But no matter the order, it was delicious!
Cheese is my boyfriend right now. Hot and steamy.
I would be devastated if we were ever forced to separate.
Once cooked, slather on a bit of dijon mustard and enjoy. You'll really, really like this. And that's an understatement.
Open Faced Croque Monsieur
For the béchamel sauce:
3 Tbs. butter
6 Tbs. flour
2 cups hot milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
A handful of the grated Gruyère cheese you've prepped for the sandwiches
For the sandwiches:
French loaf of bread, sliced
1/2 lb. sliced ham
1/2 lb. grated Gruyère cheese
Preheat oven to 450°F.
To make the béchamel, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until smooth and cook about 1 minute. Slowly add the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth. Increase the heat to medium, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Add in a handful or two of the grated Gruyère cheese and stir. Off the heat add salt, pepper and nutmeg.
To assemble the sandwiches, cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the bread slices on the sheet and layer the ham evenly on the bread. Slather the tops with the béchamel. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère and bake the sandwiches on a low rack for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned.