I'm slightly obsessed with the Croque Monsieur at Buvette on Grove Street in the West Village. I've been a huge fan of the chef/owner, Jodi Williams since her days at Gusto and can honestly say that she's responsible for getting me over my long lived ambivalence to salads. Her Fava Bean, Escarole and Pecorino Salad is something I've tried to recreate and am very excited to hear she has a cookbook coming out so I can finally make it myself. Every time I visit Buvette, I'm stuck between ordering her Steak Tartare and the Croque Monsieur. The Steak Tartare usually wins out only because I've figured out how to make the Croque Monsieur at home using an Ina Garten recipe that comes wonderfully close. The Steak Tartare, I'm yet to figure out!
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup hot milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
2 cups grated Gruyère cheese, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 slices of white bread (I use Italian Round)
Dijon mustard to taste
1 thick slice of ham
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Make a Béchamel sauce by melting the butter over a low heat in a saucepan and then adding the flour.
3. Stir for 2 minutes until it reaches the consistency of a fine paste.
4. Add the bay leaf and hot milk and stir over a low heat until the sauce thickens (about 5 minutes).
5. Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf.
6. Add in 1 cup of Gruyère, all of the Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well until the cheese has melted.
7. Lightly toast the 2 slices of bread.
8. Assemble the sandwich on the baking sheet. On one slice of toast, spread a little mustard then add the ham and sprinkle 1/2 cup Gruyère on top.
9. Top with the other slice of bread then slather over the cheese sauce until the sandwich is covered. Let the sauce spread over the edges and don't be afraid to let it get a bit messy.
10. Top with the remaining Gruyère and bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
11. Finish the sandwich under the broiler for a further 3 minutes until the top is nicely browned.
12. Serve warm.