I've always wanted to try a croque monsieur. Something about the cheesiness along with the bechamel, ham, and French bread has always made my taste buds cheer. This croque monsieur mac and cheese, though, will definitely hold me over until I can travel to France for the real deal.
It's safe to say that this dish should feed six people. BUT the four of us devoured it last night. We were litterally fighting over who got to have the most seconds, and how many chunks of bread we had all had. Yup. It was that good. Between the sweet tanginess of the Gruyere, the creamy bechamel, the salty ham, and the gooey yet crunchy bread topping this dish is to die for. Prepare to fight for some seconds.
Croque Monsieur Mac and Cheese
From Food Network Magazine
For mac and cheese
1/2 pound cellentani (or any other curly noodle)
2 cups milk
2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 large eggs
3 slices of white bread, roughly diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, diced small
2 cloves of garlic, crushed then minced
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound deli ham, chopped
Make mac and cheese:
Preheat the oven to 425F and cook pasta according to directions to achieve al dente. Upon draining the pasta, put it back into the pot, add 1/4 cup of milk, and cover. Set aside.
Combine the Gruyere and Parmesan cheese in a bowl. In a medium sized bowl, beat the 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of milk; fold in half of the cheese mixture and the bread. Set aside.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic, cooking until golden brown. Next, add in the flour, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, and freshly ground pepper and kosher salt. Allow the flour to cook, about 2 minutes. Slowly add in 3/4 cup water, whisking the mixture constantly while adding, followed by the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk. Bring the sauce to a boil, still whisking/stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and add in the remaining cheese and pasta.
Pour half of the pasta mixture into a greased casserole dish. Top with half of the ham and then the remaining pasta mixture. Then top with the remaining ham and cover the dish with the bread/cheese mixture. Sprinkle some additional Gruyere cheese on top to have an extra cheesy and delicious top. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly.