Two-Pork Croque Monsieur with Spiced Mornay

No one knows where Mornay sauce comes from, or which Duc de Mornay, if any, is responsible for this almost scandalously voluptuous and creamy cheese-based sauce. All we know is that it’s so simple and insanely delicious. My version of croque monsieur includes smoky bacon and herbes de Provence, with a quick version of Mornay — not for dieters! Serve with a small salad.

Serves 4

8 slices bacon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
8 slices rustic, porous white bread
8 thin slices boiled ham, at room temperature

1. Cook the bacon to golden and set aside to drain on a paper towel.

2. To make the sauce, in a small pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the herbes de Provence and pepper. Stir just for a moment to allow the herbs to infuse into the butter. Whisk in the flour a little at a time. Stir rapidly with the whisk to incorporate all the flour. Once the mixture is smooth, slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Taste (blow hard to cool first) and make sure the raw flour flavor is gone. If it isn’t, continue to simmer and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Gruyere and the lemon juice. Set aside.

3. Preheat the broiler.

4. Toast the bread in the toaster to a light golden. Lay 4 pieces of the bread on a sheet pan. Add 2 slices of ham, then 2 slices of bacon to each. Spoon one-quarter of the Mornay sauce onto each. It is OK (and desirable) for the sauce to run out a little bit. Place the remaining slices of bread on top of the sauce. Divide the remainder of the Gruyere among the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle a little more pepper on top of each sandwich and place under the broiler. Broil until the cheese is golden.

Jeffrey Saad Global Kitchen cookbookExcerpted from Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen by Jeffrey Saad. Copyright © 2012 by Jeffrey Saad. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher.