6 slices from the middle of a Pain au Levain or round country loaf, about 1-inch thick
10 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups hot milk
1 tsp fleur de sel salt
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 cups gruyere, finely grated
about 2 oz thinly sliced gruyere
1/2 cup parmesan, finely grated
5 Roma tomatoes, sliced and dried of their moisture (using paper towels)
3 8oz cartons of brown mushrooms, stems discarded and sliced
6 slices French or German ham, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat in a medium pan and add the flour all at once, whisking for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking frequently, until the sauce is thickened, about 10-15 minutes. The sauce consistency will be like a thick cream soup when it's ready. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
Butter both sides of each slice of bread, using about 1 tbsp butter per slice. To toast the bread, place the slices on 1 large baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sautee for 10-12 minutes, until the moisture from the mushrooms has subsided. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
For each bread slice, top with 5 tomato slices, then some mushrooms. Pour on several generous spoonfuls of cheese sauce, lie 1 slice of ham down, top with some gruyere slices, then sprinkle with grated gruyere and thyme, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.
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