Blessed Are the Sandwich Makers

Cathy and Laurent Degois of Chez Renee Bistrot Share Their Recipe for an Ultra-Indulgent Croque Monsieur

Article by Joanne Drilling

Photography by Alicia + Will Photography

Originally published in Loveland Lifestyle

Cathy Degois and her husband, Laurent, quietly opened their French bistro, Chez Renee, in 2017. Having owned a catering company in Western France before relocating to Ohio, the duo Degois are no strangers to solid comfort food executed with élan. They play to their strengths in the kitchen—French standards like chocolate mousse, Croque Monsieur and Scallops a la Bretonne are decadent additions to the dining on Main Street in Milford and have quickly gained them repeat customers. We were more than a little excited that they agreed to share a signature recipe with Loveland Lifestyle readers. Bon Appétit!

Croque Monsieur

Yields 1 sandwich


For the béchamel sauce:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
kosher salt

For the sandwich:

2 slices challah bread, toasted
2 ounces ham, thinly sliced
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Begin by making the béchamel sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture is pale and foamy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick and somewhat elastic, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and nutmeg; season with salt.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a small crock or casserole dish, spread a little bit of the béchamel on the bottom. Place a slice of toast into the casserole and lightly cover the toast with the sauce. Spread slices of ham over the sauced toast, followed by half of the grated Gruyere. Top with the second slice of toast and cover with more of the béchamel sauce. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. 

Bake until the cheese is brown and bubbly, about 10-12 minutes. 

Chez Renee French Bistrot

233 Main St., Milford

513.428.0454, ChezReneeFrenchBistrot.com 

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