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Shannon Keleher | CoServ

Keleher has fond childhood memories of spending summers with her mom’s parents, Nan and Granddad. “My sister and I had only ever had a regular grilled cheese until Nan introduced us to the croque monsieur, a recipe she learned when my grandfather was stationed overseas in the Army.” French for “mister crunch,” this luxurious sandwich is made with ham and cheese sauce and finished under the broiler to create a crispy browned crust. Serve it with tart pickles like cornichons and a green salad. To make this a croque madame, serve topped with a fried egg.

Cheese sauce

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk, heated
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese


8 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed, if desired
Dijon mustard
8 ounces sliced Virginia ham
3 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cheese sauce: Melt the butter over low heat and stir (or whisk) in the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon for 2–3 minutes. Pour in the warmed milk and stir constantly until the sauce thickens; remove from heat. Stir in the Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg and 1/2 cup of Gruyère.

3. Sandwiches: Lightly toast bread in the oven on a baking sheet for approximately 5 minutes on each side. Spread Dijon on one side of each piece of bread. Place slices of ham and a handful of Gruyère on four slices of bread, and top with remaining bread slices. Pour cheese sauce on top of each sandwich (using a knife to spread over top) and top with another handful of Gruyère. Bake sandwiches for approximately 5 minutes, until warmed through.

4. Broil until cheese sauce and cheese become brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 sandwiches.