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Croque Monsieur

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In Italy, bricklayers and plutocrats alike eat the same thing for lunch: panini, sandwiches layered with meat and cheese and flattened between two searing griddles. Today they’re almost as common as cappuccino in America, albeit much cheaper and easier to make. One affordable panini press, and you’re on the fast track to the perfect party food.

Ingredients

For the béchamel:

  • 1

    tablespoon butter

  • 1 ½

    tablepoons flour

  • 1

    cup milk

  • Salt and pepper

For the panini:

  • 24

    slices white Pullman bread, 1/2 inch thick

  • ½

    pound Gruyère, grated

  • 12

    slices ham, 1/8 inch thick

  • ¼

    cup Dijon mustard

    Preparation

    1. To make the béchamel: melt butter in a saucepan; sprinkle in flour, whisking constantly. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
    2. To make the panini: preheat a panini press or George Foreman grill. Spread 1 teaspoon béchamel on each slice of bread and arrange the slices in two equal rows. On one row, sprinkle enough Gruyére to cover all the way to the edges. On the other, add the ham and top with a dollop of mustard and a twist of pepper. Put the slices with the ham and mustard on top of the slices with the cheese. Grill until lightly golden. Serve hot.
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