Earlier this year my Mom, sister, and I ventured on a trip to LA for the Rose Parade. As part of our touristing duties, we ventured over to Rodeo Drive and stumbled upon the most amazing French Bakery called L'Amande. Having studied French in high school and college, I have a soft spot for French food -- not to mention I love food to begin with, so French food and I are meant to be.
When looking over the menu for lunch, I spotted Croque Monsieur - the most famous of dishes from the country. One of the first words they taught us was Croque Monsieur in high school...And yet 15 years later I've never tried one!
Let me tell you, I was in heaven. And the recipes I've found so far online don't even come close. First, the bread is super soft and slightly sweet -- it's called pain de mie. Every recipe online says to use white sandwich bread -- that is so wrong. Then they use just a couple thin slices of Black Forest Ham, some Gruyere cheese, and topped with a broiled Bechamel sauce. The ham and cheese are minimalized surprisingly so all the ingredients play together harmoniously without competing against one another.
So, here's a picture of what I had at L'Amande, and here's my attempt to reproduce it at home. Good luck!
1 loaf pan de mie (or fresh white bakery bread), sliced thick
1/2 lb. black forest ham, sliced thin
1 C. Shredded Gruyere cheese
Dijon mustard (optional)
Bechamel Sauce (adapted from Ina Garten)
1 Tbsp. butter
1.5 Tbsp. flour
1 C. warm milk
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1 1/2 C. shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
First, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes so that the flour taste is cooked out. Slowly whisk in the milk and stir constantly to avoid lumps. Add the salt and pepper. Once thickened, remove from the heat and add in the cheese, a little at a time, until melted.
To assemble the sandwich, butter the bread and layer on the ham, Gruyere, and mustard if desired. Place on a skillet and cover. Turn the heat to low so that the insides have a chance to melt. Flip bread and brown the other side once golden. Once the insides are melted, remove the cover, spread the Bechamel sauce generously on the top slice of bread and place in a preheated broiler for 2-3 minutes -- just enough to bubble the sauce. Remove and enjoy!
Hi, I'm Michelle and based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. I love all things cooking and baking and would love to inspire you to create something of your own!