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Croque Monsieur
from the kitchen of Sharmagne Leland-St. John

For the sauce:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, scalded
3 large pearl onions each studded with  1 clove
1 bay leaf
Dash of dried thyme, crumbled
½ cup of Gruyère or Emmental cheese
Salt and white pepper to taste
Nutmeg, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a heavy medium heavy saucepan.
When the butter starts to foam add the flour all at once, stirring
with a wooden spoon constantly to incorporate and cook the flour.
After 2 to 4 minutes, slowly pour the scalded milk into the butter–
flour mixture and cook, whisking gently, with a wire whisk.   Add
the onions bay leaf and thyme. Cook over a low heat while stirring
for about 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce is smooth and thickened.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer.  Off the heat add the salt, pepper,
nutmeg, and the  grated cheese. Set aside.

For the sandwich:
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed
4 ounces baked ham, thinly sliced
2  cups grated Gruyère or Emmental cheese, divided
4 tablespoons butter, softened

To toast the bread, place the slices on a large baking sheet and
bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes,
until toasted. Evenly brush 4 slices of the toast with the Dijon.  Add
a slice of ham to each and top with 1 cup of the cheese, divided
evenly.  Cover with the remaining toast halves. Spread the butter
on the outside surfaces of the sandwiches and bake the sandwiches
for 5 minutes on an un-greased baking sheet.  Turn them over and
slather the top with the Cheese Bechamel sauce, then sprinkle the
remaining cup of cheese evenly on top of the sauce and place
under the broiler  for  an additional 5 minutes or until they are crispy
and the cheese is bubbly and a golden brown.

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