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What Is a Croque Monsieur?
Croque monsieur literally means “mister crunch,” and it’s also a classic French bar snack, a sandwich consisting of gruyère cheese, ham, and buttered bread. The bread is either toasted until the cheese melts or fried in butter, like a grilled cheese. It can be dipped in egg and coated in breadcrumbs before being fried, like a Monte Cristo, slathered with mustard or béchamel sauce, or topped with additional cheese. Croque monsieur first appeared on French menus in the early twentieth century and has since spread throughout the world. In France, it’s typically made with pain de mie, a soft, white, rectangular sandwich loaf, but croques can also be made with white country-style bread.
What Are Other Croque Variations?
A simple sandwich like the croque lends itself to endless variation. A few styles are popular enough to have their own names:
- Croque provençal includes tomato and herbs.
- Croque auvergnat is made with blue cheese.
- Croque norvégien is made with smoked salmon instead of ham.
- Croque tartiflette is made with potatoes and washed-rind cheese.
- Croque monsieur poulet adds chicken.
Croque Monsieur Recipe
Prep Time10 min
Total Time30 min
Cook Time20 min
- 5 tbsp plus 8 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 8 ½-inch-thick slices pain de mie or other white bread
- 8 slices ham, such as French jambon
- 8 slices Gruyère cheese
- Make the béchamel sauce: In a medium saucepot over medium heat, warm 5 tablespoons butter until melted. Gradually add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.
- Cook the mixture for 2-3 minutes, keeping a close eye on it to avoid unwanted burning. In a separate saucepot, heat the milk until it is just about to boil.
- Add the hot milk to the butter mixture, ½ cup at a time, constantly whisking. Cook 12 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn heat off.
- Slowly stir in 1 egg yolk at a time. Season with salt and nutmeg. Heat oven to 300°F.
- Assemble the sandwich: Generously spread four slices of bread with béchamel sauce. Top each with ham and cheese and cover with remaining bread.
- Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and brush both sides of sandwiches with melted butter. Fry sandwiches in a hot cast iron pan or on a griddle until golden brown. Top sandwiches with more béchamel sauce and transfer to the oven to continue cooking until cheese bubbles, about 5-10 minutes.
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