Yield: 4 sandwiches
I spent the majority of my life convinced I didn’t like ham, until I actually tasted ham and decided that I had been missing out of this delicious, salty pork for my whole life. This is an easy gateway recipe for converting a so-called ham hater to a lover, because it’s covered in cheese and sandwiched between bread, griddled until toasty and golden brown, and then broiled to give you some of those crispy, cheesy corners that happen in a good grilled cheese sandwich. Obviously, current ham lovers will need no convincing on this one. Top it with a fried egg for a classic Croque Madame.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
Grating of fresh nutmeg
Pinch of dry mustard powder
3 ounces Gruyere, grated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices high-quality white sandwich bread
1/2 pound thinly sliced ham
5 ounces Gruyere, thinly sliced plus 2 ounces grated
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
To make the Mornay sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, whisking to absorb the butter, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to remove any lumps. Continue to cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Season with a grating of fresh nutmeg, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and add the shredded Gruyere, stirring until melted.
Preheat the broiler and heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. To assemble the sandwiches, place the bread slices on a large cutting board. Spread one side with a thin layer of Dijon mustard and spread some Mornay sauce on the other side. Layer the ham and sliced Gruyere on the Mornay side and top with the Dijon side. Spread the outsides with a thin layer of butter. When the skillet is hot, add two of the sandwiches and cook for 5 minutes per side, until golden brown and toasted. Repeat with the remaining two sandwiches. Transfer to a large baking sheet and spread a little Mornay on top. Sprinkle the remaining grated Gruyere evenly over the four sandwiches. Broil for several minutes, until the top is bubbling and golden. Sprinkle the chopped chives over the top.