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Margie Nomura's Croque Monsieur

Margie Nomura: You know a sandwich deserves respect when you are required to use the formal title of Monsieur. It’s the addition of the béchamel sauce that really elevates this sandwich. We all know toasted cheese sandwiches are delicious but this is a step above and makes a lovely weekend lunch as the weather gets a little cooler.

This is the kind of sandwich you really do need to eat with a knife and fork. It’s absolutely delicious paired with a few cornichons and a crisp green salad dressed in a French Vinaigrette.

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What you'll need

  • 4 ham slices
  • 3 tbsp parmesan, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 slices Hovis bread
  • 2tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4tsp Dijon mustard
  • A pinch white pepper
  • 165g gruyere cheese, grated
  • 240ml milk
  • 50g gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg , preferably freshly ground

How to make

  1. Preheat oven to 200° (180°C fan).
  2. For the béchamel sauce: make a roux by melting the 25g of butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then turn the heat down to low. Add flour and cook, stirring almost constantly, for 3 minutes. Don't let it brown.
  3. Add the milk in a slow drizzle and keep stirring. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  4. Whisk for 30 seconds to a minute or until it thickens. If you have lumps, don’t panic, just whisk until they’ve gone. Remove from heat – this can be done ahead of time as it’s fine if it cools.
  5. To make the sandwiches: spread half the béchamel over the 4 slices of bread, as though you are buttering them to make normal sandwiches. Reserve half the béchamel for topping.
  6. Spread two pieces with the Dijon and then top with the ham and the gruyere. Then close sandwiches with the other slices.
  7. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Place sandwiches in the pan, and cook for 2 minutes, pressing down lightly with a spatula, until a deep golden brown. Turn and cook the other side until golden brown. Transfer to a baking tray.
  8. Slather the remaining béchamel thickly on the top of each sandwich. Sprinkle with Gruyere, then parmesan.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes, then switch to the grill for 3 minutes and grill until the top is golden and bubbling.
  10. Serve immediately. This is a knife and fork sort of sandwich and is delicious paired with a crisp green salad with a punchy vinaigrette to cut through the richness.

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