Croque Monsieur: Hot ham & cheese sandwich

March 25, 2009 6:26:15 PM PDT
A classic French Recipe you can make at home.

Croque Monsieur
From Chef John Marquez of Artisan Bistro in Lafayette, CA
Serves: 2
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes


  • 1 tbsp butter, plus softened butter for bread
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp Parmigiano, grated (optional)
  • 3 oz Gruyère cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 slices French or Italian loaf bread
  • Dijon mustard
  • 6 oz thinly sliced ham, about 6 slices
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. To make béchamel sauce: In a small saucepan on low heat, melt butter until foamy. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a flat sauce whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, stirring continuously, and cook until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and season with nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in Parmigiano and 2 tbsp grated Gruyère. Reserve.

  3. Lightly and evenly butter bread slices on both sides and toast both sides in sauté pan over low heat until just golden brown.

  4. Spread one side of each toasted slice with mustard. Evenly place the ham slices and about ½ cup Gruyère cheese on two of the bread slices. Top each with one of remaining bread slices, mustard-side down.

  5. Spread béchamel sauce to cover the top of each sandwich (crusts, too). Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Gruyère cheese. Place on oven-safe sheet pan and bake 5 minutes at 350 degrees, then place under lit broiler until cheese mixture on top is bubbling and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
Tip: Cover the edges of the bread with the béchamel or they can get a little too crisp in contrast to the rest of the sandwich.

Artisan Bistro will be opened in Lafayette, California on or about March 4 by Chef John Marquez and his family. The exact location will be 1005 Brown Avenue, previously home to Gigi Restaurant, run by Chef Jeffrey Amber, which closed on Feb 14.

Marquez, 30 years old, is currently the chef at Fringale in San Francisco and has previously worked at a number of high profile restaurants including Coi (as the Chef de Cuisine) and Elisabeth Daniel in San Francisco, the French Laundry in Yountville, Per Se in New York, Bridges in Danville, and Lutece and Picasso in Las Vegas.

The cuisine at Artisan Bistro will be California/French, the menu moderately priced and the wine list will be international. The dining room, seating 56 guests (plus 8 at the bar), will have a contemporary feel. Highlights will include a fireplace and artwork by a local artist. An outdoor brick floored patio will seat an additional 42 people.

Artisan Bistro will serve dinner Tuesday through Sunday, lunch Tuesday through Friday and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. The telephone number will be (925) 962-0882 and the Web site address will be