If you've ever been to one of Dominique Ansel's bakeries, then you'll know that the chef doesn't do things by halves. In this recipe, he puts a twist on the classic croque monsieur by bathing the sourdough slices in a savoury custard, before adding a layer of the béchamel sauce, black forest ham and gruyère cheese. After you try this, you'll never look at plain old cheese toasties the same way again.

Ingredients

For the béchamel:

  • 236ml milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 228g grated gruyère cheese

For the custard:

  • 950ml milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • Pinch onutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the sandwich:

  • 228g sliced gruyère cheese
  • 454g black forest ham, sliced
  • 8 slices of sourdough bread

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C.
  2. Make the béchamel sauce. In a pot, warm the milk (make sure it doesn't boil).
  3. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for 30 seconds over medium heat until the mixture becomes dough-like.
  4. Stream the warm milk into the butter-flour mixture in three increments, whisking continuously until smooth. Let boil for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the shredded gruyère cheese, mixing until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then pour the mixture into a shallow dish, cover in plastic and place in fridge to let cool for about 2-3 hours.
  6. Make the custard. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of milk and a pinch of nutmeg, whisk in 4 large eggs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool in the fridge.
  7. To assemble the sandwich, dip each slice of bread in the custard. Spread a layer of the béchamel sauce on one slice of bread, add 4 slices of ham, 2 slices of gruyère, top with another slice of bread. On the top, spread another layer of béchamel and finish with 2 more slices of gruyère. Bake in oven for 10 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.

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