A Simple, Classic Croque Monsieur Recipe
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
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
- Preheat the broiler.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until golden brown.
- Add the milk, whisking to prevent any lumps from forming.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens, then stir in the cheese.
- Cook the béchamel for another few minutes, until the cheese is evenly melted, then season with nutmeg and salt and pepper.
- Spread a teaspoon of mustard on each piece of bread, then top with the ham.
- Place on a baking sheet, then ladle on the béchamel.
- 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