Breakfast / Brunch
Croque Monsieur Strata with Dijon Béchamel
Move over captain, there’s a new brunch favorite in town. This ham and cheese strata is inspired by the classic bistro sandwich, croque monsieur, and means “mister crunch” in French. With just one bite of this savory strata, you’ll be saying ooh-la-la.
To start, you want to stale the bread, either overnight or in an oven. This ensures it’s as absorbent as possible. In keeping with the sandwich, a béchamel sauce is next (for flavor, this one features a hefty helping of Dijon). And for ease and visual appeal, deli-sliced ham is the way to go.
Once assembled, like all strata, chill it at least several hours, so the bread can absorb the eggs and milk. And to encourage fairly even saturation (you don’t want some bread pieces soppy and other slices dry), be sure to weigh the strata down.
Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with butter.
Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Whisk in flour and cook roux 1–2 minutes.
Whisk in 2 cups milk in a thin steady stream until completely combined, then whisk in Dijon and nutmeg; season with salt and cayenne. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook béchamel until it thickens, coats the back of a spoon, and leaves a trail that does not fill in, 4–6 minutes.
Pour one-fourth (about ½ cup) béchamel into bottom of prepared baking dish, then layer with one-third of bread slices, half the ham, one-third (about 1⅓ cups) Gruyère, and about ½ cup béchamel over top. Repeat layering one more time, then top with remaining bread slices and remaining one-fourth (about ½ cup) béchamel.
Whisk together eggs, remaining 1½ cups milk, and black pepper; pour over layers in baking dish and top with remaining 1⅓ cups Gruyère. Cover strata with plastic wrap and weigh down; chill at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 375°. Remove strata from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature, about 30 minutes; remove plastic wrap.
Bake strata until browned and bubbly and a thermometer inserted into the center registers 160°, 60–75 minutes, tenting with foil if it browns too quickly. Let strata stand 10–15 minutes before serving and garnishing with parsley.
For a lump-free sauce, slowly whisk the milk into the roux until it’s smooth and completely combined.
To encourage even absorption, weigh down a baking sheet set on top of the assembled strata.
To be sure the eggs get cooked through, temp the strata in the center. It should register 160°.
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 32%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Cholesterol 200mg 66%
Sodium 1063mg 44%
Carbs 26g 8%
Fiber 1g 4%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.