Cheese and Bread. What's not to love?

Croque monsieur is one of those fancy-sounding French recipes that you hear about but maybe never have (and certainly never make). Heck, I can barely pronounce it. It’s traditionally a hot sandwich with ham and cheese as the filling but when you do a little research you’ll find many different takes on the recipe. This one is open-faced and uses turkey pastrami instead of ham but the bread and melty cheese and overall deliciousness remain.

Of course we love to cook anything with cheese in it so we set off to Whole Foods to gather our ingredients.

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 ½ cups Gruyère, grated
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated and packed
  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch thick slices
  • 8 ounces turkey pastrami, thinly sliced
  • Dijon mustard

We believe that food is better when it’s made of high-quality ingredients (but this doesn’t mean “expensive” and I don’t think price is always an indication of quality). We didn’t skimp on the cheese, meat or bread. We purchased a nice crunchy, thick loaf that would hold up toasted and cut slices wide enough for an open-faced sandwich.


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Slowly add flour, whisking constantly. Keep whisking until mixture turns a light blonde color (this should take 2-3 minutes). Be careful not to let the mixture turn brown. Slowly whisk in warmed milk. Reduce heat to simmer and whisk until sauce starts to thicken. Stir in Parmesan and 1/4 cup Gruyère a little at a time to prevent clumping. Once combined, add salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to low.

3. Toast bread slices in the oven to desired crunchiness, turning bread over once to toast both sides. You can also use the broiler but there is a greater chance of burning the toast if you do so.

4. Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard over each toasted slice (add more if you have a particular love of mustard but the flavor will be strong). Add 2 slices of pastrami to each toast.

5. Sprinkle each toast with about 1/4 cup of the Gruyère reserve. Spoon Béchamel over each slice, then top with remaining Gruyère.

6. Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate pan, then turn broiler on High for 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn it! When ready, the cheese will be melty and lightly browned.