What’s cooking today: Croque Monsieur

What’s cooking today: Croque Monsieur
Croque Monsieur. If you add a fried egg, it becomes a Croque Madame. (Photo: Louis Pieterse)

The famous Parisian street food is not just a ham and cheese sandwich. Who fries a sandwich? Yes, they’re fried. And then grilled.


This recipe accompanies this story


(For 2)

4 slices plain white bread

Butter (for the outside)

3 Tbsp more butter for frying

Dijon mustard

2 or 3 slices of Emmental or Gruyère cheese per croque (so you need 4 to 6 for the 2)

2 or 3 slices of decent quality ham per croque (so 4 to 6 in all)

1 quantity béchamel sauce for which you need:

2 heaped Tbsp flour

2 generous Tbsp butter

500 ml milk


Heat the milk but do not boil. Melt butter in a saucepan on a low heat. Remove and vigorously stir in the flour to make a smooth roux. Put pot on a low heat and pour in half the milk, whisking until it thickens. Add remaining milk and whisk until it thickens again. Season with a little salt and a grating of nutmeg. Keep aside till needed.

To assemble:

Turn on the oven grill (that is, the type that heats from above) to get really hot before you need to grill them.

Do not butter the inside of the bread.

Do butter the outside.

Lay a slice of bread down, buttered side underneath. Smear it with Dijon mustard, as much as you like i.e. to taste. Spoon la béchamel on the mustard-smeared bread. Lay the ham on la béchamel. Lay the cheese slices or grated cheese on the ham. Put the bread on top of the cheese. 

Do not add more on top at this stage because you first need to fry them.

Melt butter in a pan. Fry the croques on one side until golden brown. Turn carefully and fry the other side till golden brown. Place on an oven pan, or a rack over a pan, in the correct order (you flipped them while frying, so flip them back) and spoon more béchamel onto the buttered top of the upper slice of bread, the idea being that the bread will absorb the sauce. Top with more cheese slices (or grated if you are more of a conformist than I).

Now pop it under the grill for the cheese on top to melt into the béchamel which in turn oozes into the bread and everything becomes the most desirable sandwich in the world. Et voila! DM/TGIFood

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