To round off an incredible 6 Nations this year, we've got a French classic – the Croque Monsieur.
8 slices of good sourdough bread
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp plain flour
freshly grated nutmeg
280g grated cheese (a mixture of Emmental, Gruyère and Cheddar is good)
160g good-quality, sliced ham
And it doesn't get much better than Michel Roux Jr's authentic recipe from his book, The French Kitchen. A must have for any home cook and available to buy here.
Lightly toast the bread on both sides, then butter one side of each slice. To make the béchamel sauce, melt the remaining butter in a small pan, stir in the flour to make a roux, then whisk in the milk. Keep whisking it well to avoid lumps and bring the sauce to the boil. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook for 3–4 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Spread a little mustard on the buttered side of a piece of toast. Add a generous amount of béchamel, followed by grated cheese and a slice of ham. Spread some more béchamel on the dry side of another piece of toast and place on top of the ham, pressing a little to stick it down. Spread a little more béchamel on top of the sandwich and sprinkle with grated cheese. Make all the sandwiches in the same way.
Put the sandwiches on a baking tray and bake them in the preheated oven for 6–8 minutes until crisp and golden. Serve at once.