Updated: Sep 18, 2020
The "female" counterpart of the French classic Croque Monsieur--- casually referred to as the "croque," fancy sounding it may seem, this dish is simply a ham and cheese sandwich layered with rich Bechamel sauce and topped with a fried or poached egg. If you are not in the mood for egg, opt for the Croque Monsieur instead.
To make 3 sandwiches
6 thick slices of sourdough bread (or any thick slice sandwich bread)
6-9 slices of ham
1-2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter for grilling
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup water
1 Bay leaf
1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (or Parmesan cheese)
1 ¼ cups Gruyere cheese, grated (divide into 2--- half for Bechamel sauce and other half for topping)
You can use 1 cup of whole milk, instead of ½ cup heavy whipping cream and ½ cup water.
Make a roux by melting butter in a pan on low-to-medium heat.
Once butter is melted, whisk in flour into butter until well incorporated, making sure there are no lumps from the flour.
Add heavy whipping cream and water (or whole milk). Stir, and stir frequently.
Add Bay leaf and Parmigiano Reggiano (or Parmesan cheese). Continue to stir until mixture has thickened in consistency.
Turn off heat. Add half of the Gruyere cheese. Mix and set aside.
Assemble the sandwich
Layer a slice of bread with 2-3 slices of ham.
Spread some Bechamel sauce on top of the layers of ham.
Top with other slice of bread to make a sandwich.
Repeat above steps until done with the remaining 2 sandwiches.
Heat a pan or skillet. Melt the butter.
Place sandwiches in the pan or skillet and brown each side of the sandwiches (according to your preference).
Once browned to your liking, flip the sandwiches, and brown the other sides.
Transfer sandwiches to a baking sheet. Line with a parchment paper or aluminum foil as cheese will melt and drip onto the baking sheet.
Spread Bechamel sauce on top of each sandwich and top each sandwich with remaining Gruyere cheese.
Turn on broiler and broil the sandwiches until cheese is melted and golden brown in color. Once done, take sandwiches out of the broiler.
Fry or poach 3 eggs while sandwiches are under the broiler (or you can prepare ahead).
Top each sandwich with an egg. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper if you wish.