Sauce pan, pastry brush and a cookie cutter size 3 inches.
Ingredients Makes 6:
1. 20g butter (for buttering the slice bread)
2. 50g butter (for the béchamel sauce)
3. 50g flour
4. 200ml milk
5. ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
6. 1 tsp Dijon mustard
7. Pinch of ground white pepper
8. Some thyme leaves
9. 55g grated Gruyère cheese
10. 18 slices of good quality white bread (crusts removed, I use a cookie cutter instead to remove and shape the white bread)
11. 12 slices of good quality ham
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
Preparing the 3 slices of bread:
This process if for one portion only, (repeat this process 6x to make 6 portions):
2. For the 2 slices of bread, butter only one side, cut using a cookie cutter. Grill in the oven, butter side up for 3 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
3. For the 3rd slice of bread however, butter, cut and grill both sides of the bread.
4. Heat your sauce pan over low heat, melt your butter and then add your flour to make a roux, slowly add your milk whisking continuously until your béchamel has thicken and is smooth. Add mustard, pinch of pepper and 45g of grated Gruyère cheese, stir until the cheese has melted and all the ingredients are incorporated together. Remove from heat once béchamel mixture is smooth.
The Croque Monsieur:
5. Spread mustard over the un-grilled sides of the bread; add ham, béchamel sauce, then again another ham on top.
6. Top the ham with the slice bread that has been grilled on both sides, add ham on top and another layer of béchamel sauce.
7. Finally, add the last slice of bread with mustard spread all over the un-grilled side of the bread (the grilled side of the bread should be facing upwards) spread a thin layer of béchamel sauce on top of the grilled side of the bread, add the rest of the 10g grated gruyere cheese and thyme on top.
8. Grill for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm fresh from the oven.
Extra Tip: This is my take on a classic French croque monsieur. I like to used a round cookie cutter to remove the edges of the white bread as per the picture below, it does not only remove the crust but it makes the croque monsieur looks pretty to serve over lunch. I also like to grill both sides of the middle ‘sliced bread’ as it does add a crunchy texture to the croque monsieur, keeping the other 2 slices with only one side of them grilled makes the bread soft on the inside and crispy on the outer layers, giving different textures to this dish. Decorate with a walnut and some thyme leaves on top.