Béchamel Sauce

Equipment

  • Potholders
  • Medium saucepan
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Whisk
  • Microplane grater

Mise en Place

  • ¼ cup of butter
  • ¼ cup of unbleached flour
  • 11/2 cups of whole milk
  • Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg

Step by Step

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  • Add the flour and whisk constantly for 3 or 4 minutes. The purpose of this step is to cook the flour. This is called a roux.
  • Gradually add the milk, whisking the entire time. We don’t want it to burn!
  • Whisk until the sauce is thick. It must pass the “coat the back-of-the-spoon” test.
  • Add salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg.
  • Set aside.

Croque Monsieur

Let’s get started. This is a classic French recipe for a tasty ham and cheese sandwich. Croque means “crusty,” and Monsieur means “Mr.” in French. Let me be clear: It’s seriously delicious. Let’s also master one of the classic French sauces, Sauce Béchamel, which finishes the Croque Monsieur in spectacular fashion. It takes the humble ham and cheese sandwich to a new level.

Equipment

  • Oven mitts
  • Grater
  • Cutting board
  • Small mixing bowls
  • Spatula
  • Chef’s knife
  • Baking sheet

Mise en Place

  • 12 ounces of grated Gruyêre, Emmental, or Swiss-style cheese (3oz. per sandwich)
  • 8 slices thinly sliced uncured ham
  • 8 slices of home-style white bread
  • 2 tablespoons of softened butter – Think Ahead!

Step by Step

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place the slices of bread on a cutting board or counter.
  • Butter one side of the bread.
  • Spread a thin layer of Béchamel sauce on each slice of bread.
  • Place a thin layer of cheese on top of the sauce.
  • Cover the cheese with two slices of ham.
  • Cover the ham with another layer of cheese.
  • Finish the Croque Monsieur with a slice of bread.
  • Add another thin layer of Béchamel and grated cheese to the top.
  • Place the Croque Monsieurs on a baking sheet with a metal spatula.
  • Place the baking sheet in a preheated oven.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven when the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
  • Using a spatula, place the sandwiches on a cutting board.
  • Slice the Croque Monsieur in half diagonally.
  • Serve with grain mustard or with spicy Dijon for those who like a bit of bite.

 Serves 4, Eureka!
To make another classic French sandwich, the Croque Madame, add a fried egg to the finished Croque Monsieur.

By Marilyn