Croque Monsieur for whomever's not familiar is a classic French sandwich--twice baked, made with Ham, Cheese, Mustard and Béchamel sauce. It is typically served for lunch and found in many cafes in the lovely city of Paris. Add a fried egg on top and voila it becomes a Croque Madame!
Our gluten-free version replaces traditional bread with our crusty gluten-free focaccia.
The recipe is super simple, and yet the result is out of the ordinary! The sandwich is crusty on the outside yet soft and fluffy inside, has a sharp mustard and nutty gruyere taste with a creamy quality that compliment the ham so so well!
So what's all the fuss, sounds like just grilled ham a cheese to me.
You might have a point but the difference is huge: it sits on your choice of ingredients, cooking method, but foremost on the use of a sauce you would not think of using in a sandwich, the Béchamel.
Let's talk about this wonderful sauce you all know from fettuccine alfredo, lasagna....the list goes on. It's the mother of sauces. It's made with a roux of cooked butter, flour and milk, and just salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. I never found a good gluten-free recipe, it always turned out too starchy for my taste, and as I remembered making it in Italy what I most loved about this sauce was the creamy almost slimy texture above all.
So, how to tackle the issue? I applied the same principle I use for all Krumville's baked goods, combine different gluten-free flours and starches keeping their cooking property in mind to achieve the right texture. Here I thought white rice flour mixed with tapioca starch would be a good combo, and so it is - love at fist whisk! A creamy texture, just as I remembered it. For flavor, make sure you use a good tasting milk plus mix some grated Parmigiano Reggiano, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.
Ham: so many choices here! but go for the traditional thick cut boiled ham on this one, I used Applegate's slow-cooked ham.
Cheese: Gruyere is a must, I know it's a bit pricey but totally worth it for the delicious nutty flavor.
Ingredient shopping list:
makes 4-6 sandwiches1 + 1/4 cup milk
Make the Béshamel - In a small saucepot add butter, after melted and sizzling add the rice flour and tapioca starch, whisk vigorously and cook the roux for a minute or so, just be careful not to burn the butter. Keep whisking and add the milk bring the sauce to boil, add salt. Cook for few minutes until it's nice and thick. Add grated Parmigiano, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. This can also be prepared in advance, stays refrigerated up to 3-5 days.
Cut the Focaccia bread lengthwise in long vertical slices, about 3/4'' thick. you should get 4 nice slices out of one loaf. Keep the crust edges that we are not going to use in this recipe to freeze, they make a great filling for meatballs!
In a preheated 350 º oven toast the sliced bread for 5 minutes.
While the bread is toasting grate one generous cup of gruyere cheese.
On half the toasted sliced bread spread about 1 tsp of mustard on each, then add about 2 slices ham to fit nicely on the bread. Top the ham with a couple of tbsp of Béchamel sauce and grated gruyere.
Cover with the leftover slices of toast and spread Béchamel to cover the sandwich tops (about 2 tbsp on each) and then top to finish with a generous amount of gruyere.
On a sheet tray place the assembled sandwiches in the oven and bake at 350º for 10 minutes.
Switch the oven to broiler mode and grill for a couple of minutes more, just enough to get the cheese on top a little browned. Serve hot!