Some say it’s grilled cheese on a whole other level: this traditional French sandwich is made with lots of melty gruyere, a creamy bechamel sauce, and a fried egg! Make it with ham or caramelized onions and garlic for a vegetarian-friendly version!
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 TBSP unsalted butter + 4 TBSP for cooking
- 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 slices thick French loaf or Sourdough
- Approximately 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
- Approximately 1 1/4 cups shredded gruyere cheese
- Approximately 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Traditional Version: 8-10 slices of ham, divided
- Vegetarian Version:
- 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced
- 2 eggs
- Bechamel: In a small saucepan, heat milk over low-medium heat. In a separate saucepan, melt butter, and when it begins to foam slightly, stir in the flour until thick – this is your roux. Keep stirring to cook out the raw flour and ensure it doesn’t burn. Slowly whisk/stir in the warmed milk until combined. Add a pinch of salt and pepper (to taste), nutmeg, and garlic powder. Continue to stir while it cooks for 2-3 more minutes – it will thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Caramelized Onions: You’ll want to start these before the bechamel if you’re making them. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and once it’s heated, add the onions and stir to coat. Cook for about 15 minutes, only very occasionally stirring. Be careful to not have the heat too high – you want the onions to slowly brown. If needed, add 1 TBSP water or vegetable stock to moisten pan. Continue cooking for 10-15 minutes (still only stirring occasionally) as onions brown. With 5-8 minutes remaining, add garlic.
- Sandwich Assembly: On each slice of bread, spread a thin layer of dijon mustard across one side. You’ll cook 1 sandwich at a time unless you have a bigger pan!
- Turn the broiler on high – 525°F and have a baking sheet nearby. Stir together shredded cheeses.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 TBSP of butter (if two slices of bread will fit in your pan, you can cook two at once; add 2T butter then).
- Once the butter is melted, but one bread slice down (mustard side up) and layer on a bit of gruyere and parmesan to cover the bread, your filling (ham or caramelized onions – or both!), another layer of cheese (I use about 1/3 – 1/2 cup total for the inside of the sandwich). Place the other slice of bread, mustard side down, on top of the filling. Let cook until golden brown and the cheese is beginning to melt.
- To flip the sandwich, raise up with a spatula, add another tablespoon of butter, and place the new side down into the melted butter. Cook again until golden brown and cheese is melted.
- Transfer to a baking sheet and cook the remaining sandwich the same way.
- Once both “grilled sandwiches” are made and on baking sheets, spread bechamel sauce over the top of the sandwich (again exact amount will vary on your bread size – probably about 1/4 cup for a regular slice of bread; I used more for these large slices). Top each with the remaining cheese mixture (~1/3-1/2 cup). Place in broiler for 3-5 minutes, watching carefully, until tops are golden brown.
- Meanwhile, heat skillet again to medium heat. Add a bit of additional butter or oil of choice and fry the eggs. Once sandwiches are golden brown, remove and top with a fried egg each. Serve immediately with a fork and knife.
Use your bread of choice; sometimes I feel really indulgent and use Brioche (yes!), but I enjoy the heartiness of crusty bread.
The mustard and cheese measurements are approximations because you should create the sandwich that YOU love. The size of your bread slice also plays a HUGE role. I photographed these on massive slices of French bread, and therefore used more cheese! Trust your gut.
You’ll likely have extra bechamel. Store with a piece of parchment or waxed paper against the top to prevent a film from forming from the dairy. Use within 3-ish days.
- Category: Breakfast
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: french, brunch, vegetarian, comfort, winter