I remember the very first time I had one of these rich and cheesy sandwiches. I could barely see above the counter, but I remember my godmother whipping whisking the roux on the stove. Then piling the French bread she'd just bought that morning from the local baker with an impossible amount of cheese. She was French and lived part of the time in California and other part in an apartment in Monaco. Whenever she visited, this is what she would make us for lunch. And there was always a little salad of greens coated in a tangy vinaigrette.
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk, heated
- 3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 8 slices country-style white sandwich bread
- 4 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 4 slices baked ham
Preheat an oven to 400°F.
In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Let bubble, whisking constantly and without browning, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the hot milk, increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Simmer, whisking often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Let stand, stirring often, until cooled.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the bread slices on the sheet. Transfer to the oven and toast the bread, turning once, until golden, about 10 minutes total. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Increase the oven temperature to broil. Spread 4 of the bread slices with the mustard, then top each with 1 slice of ham and 1 Tbs. of the sauce. Cover each with one of the remaining bread slices. Spread the remaining sauce over the tops of the sandwiches, being sure to cover the edges, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
Broil the sandwiches until the cheese is melted and golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to individual plates and serve immediately.