Croque monsieur with tarragon, sweet mustard salad + mango chutney

Croque monsieur with tarragon, sweet mustard salad + mango chutney

Chefs Eat Toasties Too
Brendan Homan

A classic for a reason, this sandwich can be found on menus all over the world. But how many are not up to scratch? This is as comforting as a hug from Nan. The tarragon vinegar and fresh tarragon make this sandwich spectacular. The mango chutney may seem like an odd pairing, but it really works. And a sweet mustard salad is the perfect addition.


Quantity Ingredient
500ml full-cream milk
1/2 brown onion
1 clove
125g unsalted butter
25g all-purpose flour
100g dijon mustard
500g gruyère, grated
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
16 slices smoked leg ham
see method for ingredients, to serve
8 slices brioche loaf


  1. To make the tarragon béchamel, place the milk, onion and clove in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Return the pan to the stove top, bring back to the boil, then strain the hot milk into a jug.
  2. In a heavy-based saucepan (I like to use a cast–iron pan, but any pan will do) over medium–low heat, melt 25 g of the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a heat-resistant spatula, for 3 minutes. Slowly add the strained milk in four stages, whisking the mixture to a smooth paste after each addition. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly with the spatula to stop the mixture from sticking to the pan.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the mustard and 150 g of the cheese. Stir well to incorporate. Mix in the chopped tarragon and tarragon vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a plastic container, cover with plastic wrap touching the surface to stop a skin forming, and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.
  4. Butter four slices of brioche and turn them over. Build the sandwiches, butter side down, on four squares of baking paper for ease of movement. Liberally spread the tarragon béchamel on the brioche slices and spread it to the edges. You will have more béchamel than you need, so don’t use too much or the sandwich will go sloppy – about 1 heaped tablespoon per sandwich is enough. Top evenly with the remaining cheese. Grind pepper over each sandwich and top with the ham. Butter the remaining four slices of brioche and close the sandwich, butter side down. Press down gently and butter the top slice of brioche.
  5. Place the sandwiches in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour – this will help set the béchamel. These can be left in the refrigerator for a couple of days, to cook at your convenience, or can even be wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. Just defrost them in the refrigerator for a few hours before cooking.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the remaining butter to the pan and swirl to melt. Place the sandwiches, two at a time, in the pan and cook for 5 minutes on each side to achieve a golden and crispy exterior.
  7. Place the sandwiches on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake the sandwiches in the oven for 6–8 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with a side of mango chutney. To serve with a sweet mustard salad, simply dress salad leaves with Sweet mustard dressing.

Pro tips

  • Switch gruyère for any other melty cheese, like emmental or cheddar, if you prefer. Add a Fried egg on top of the sandwich and you have a croque madame! Ooh la la. Left-over béchamel can be used for making additional sandwiches, which can then be frozen. The béchamel can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or frozen, and used for pasta bake dishes.
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