The croque monsieur is decidedly a brunch dish, rich and salty enough that it almost requires a side salad and a glass of wine (or bloody mary) to balance it out. A cast iron griddle provides the even sear that helps the croque monsieur (French for “mister crunch”) live up to its name, while a velvety béchamel and quick broil to caramelize alchemizes the sandwich into c’est si bon territory.
To make your monsieur into a madame, simply top each finished sandwich with a fried egg.
Recipe: Cast Iron Croque Monsieur
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole milk
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
4 slices country or sourdough bread
4 ounces sliced ham
2 ounces grated Gruyère cheese (about 1 cup)
Softened butter, for the sandwiches
The Field Method for Cast Iron Care
Make the béchamel: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat until foamy. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook, whisking frequently, until the sauce is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard. Season to taste with salt and nutmeg. The béchamel can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.
Heat a No.9 Round Griddle over medium heat and preheat the broiler. Spoon a thin layer of béchamel on 2 slices of bread. Divide the ham and half of the cheese between the two sandwiches, then top with the remaining bread. Spread the tops of the sandwiches with butter and cook, buttered side down, until golden brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Butter the tops of the sandwiches, turn them over, and cook until the bottoms are browned, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Spread the remaining béchamel on top of the sandwiches and sprinkle the remaining cheese over. Broil until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown. Transfer the sandwiches to plates and serve right away.
Seasoning Rating: Safe
A griddled sandwich won't stick to your griddle or skillet, and should keep seasoning moving in the right direction, simply by heating cooking fat across the cooking surface. Any stray melted cheese will clean up easily with a prompt wash.
Best—These dishes are the best options for building resilient seasoning, and surefire choices for getting tricky pans back on track.
Better—The best way to keep your skillet in great shape is to cook frequently, and cast iron-friendly dishes like these are your bread and butter.
Safe—These recipes won't strip seasoning away from your pan, but won't really add any, either.
OK—Be sure to clean up promptly. Recipes with this rating might feature acidic ingredients which can affect seasoning if not washed soon after cooking.