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A Simple, Classic Croque Monsieur Recipe

The bread, the cheese, and the ham are all still here, and yes, our version is still healthy for you!
A Simple, Classic Croque Monsieur Recipe
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Think of a croque monsieur as a ham and cheese sandwich on steroids (that is also simultaneously harder to pronouce). In a croque monsieur, the ham is sliced thick, the cheese is an intensely nutty Gruyère, comes melted in a blanket of béchamel (delicious and rich sauce made from milk and spices), and then the whole package is served browned and bubbling straight from the oven. Normally the result is a bilevel calorie bonanza, but in this recipe, we create a single-layer knife-and-fork affair instead, which manages to deliver on the decadence without the excess calories. You can serve this with a spinach, apple, and goat cheese salad (if you're all booked up on cheese, leave it out) and a glass of red wine for a weeknight dinner that will take the sting out of the workday, or share the cheese wealth and serve this at a dinner party.

Nutrition: 410 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated), 870 mg sodium

Serves 4

You'll Need

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup low-fat milk
1⁄2 cup shredded Gruyère or other Swiss cheese
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Salt and black pepper to taste
4 tsp Dijon mustard
4 thick slices country bread, lightly toasted
8 oz Black Forest ham in 8 slices

How to Make It

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until golden brown.
  4. Add the milk, whisking to prevent any lumps from forming.
  5. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens, then stir in the cheese.
  6. Cook the béchamel for another few minutes, until the cheese is evenly melted, then season with nutmeg and salt and pepper.
  7. Spread a teaspoon of mustard on each piece of bread, then top with the ham.
  8. Place on a baking sheet, then ladle on the béchamel.
  9. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack and broil for about 5 minutes, until the béchamel is bubbling and nicely browned.

Eat This Tip

Knife-and-fork sandwiches achieve the impossible feat of feeling more substantial while actually being lighter. Follow the same broiling technique here for any of these combinations:

  • Roast turkey, apple-sausage stuffing, gravy
  • Garlic-rosemary roast beef, caramelized onions, spicy mustard, provolone cheese
  • Roasted vegetables, pesto, fresh mozzarella

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

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