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Croque-Monsieur or -Madame

Bar Boulud, New York City, Olivier Quignon / July 18th, 2013

Serves 4

Béchamel sauce:

  • 3 Tbsps. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • nutmeg, freshly grated
  • Salt
  • white pepper, freshly ground

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat; whisk in the flour until blended but not colored; gradually whisk in the milk; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes; season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper; set aside.

Note: May be made up to 24 hours ahead of time and stored, refrigerated, with a layer of plastic wrap placed directly on surface of sauce; gently reheat before serving.

Assembly:

  • 2 Tbsps. unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 slices high-quality Pullman loaf bread, sliced 1/3- to 1/2-“ thick, very lightly toasted (no color)
  • 12 oz. thickly sliced jambon de Paris (high-quality wet-cured ham)
  • 10 oz. Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
  • 4 whole eggs (for the madame)
  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F; line a sheet pan with parchment paper and brush with melted butter; on a work surface, place bread slices in a single layer and spread each one evenly to the edges with béchamel (all the béchamel may not be needed); divide ham among four of the slices, trimming it if necessary so it is within 1/4” of edges; top all eight slices with equal amounts of cheese, spreading it evenly to within 1/4 inch of edges; place four bread slices with béchamel and cheese, cheese side up, on top of slices layered with ham.

  2. Transfer sandwiches, cheese side up, onto sheet pan; bake until grated cheese topping is melted and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Note: To make a croque-madame, fry eggs sunny-side up and place one on top of each finished sandwich. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; serve immediately.