Around the world in 80 dishes No. 48: Croque Monsieur

Ingredients to serve 2

10g butter
10g flour
150ml semi-skimmed milk
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
50g Gruyère, finely grated
Salt and pepper
2 large slices sourdough bread (such as Poilane)
2 thin slices ham


Let's face it: croque monsieurs are just naughty. There's no part of this quintessential French snack that is low-fat, from the bread to the cheese via the béchamel sauce. I have slimmed this delicious French double-decker down to the minimum amount of badness, without taking the Michel and changing its nature.This croque is a lot less fattening than the ones you would buy either in a restaurant or as a takeaway.

I've cut down the quantity of cheese by half, compared to the traditional French recipes I've come across, and I honestly don't think that you will miss the other 50g. As always, choose a really mature variety of cheese so that the flavour goes far.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Once it's frothy, beat in the flour with a sauce whisk. Let this mixture cook through for a minute or so, making sure always to keep the paste on the move.

Just before it starts to colour, take the mixture off the heat and add a third of the milk, whisking all the while.

Once all the milk is absorbed, add a little more milk and repeat the whisking until all the milk is used up. Simmer over low heat for 3–4 minutes, whisking constantly, until you have a uniform and thickened béchamel sauce.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the mustard and most of the Gruyère. Taste and season well, then spread half the mixture on to the bottom slice of bread. Top with the ham, then add a little more béchamel before putting the second slice of bread on top of that.

Finally, add the rest of the sauce and sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère.

Put in the oven for 10 minutes to cook through. Next, heat the grill and when the dish is cooked, put it under the hot grill until the top is golden and crispy. Serve with a sprightly salade verte.

Taken from The Skinny French Kitchen by Harry Eastwood (Bantam Press, £20).

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before