Pork hock croque-monsieur

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 4 people

"I love a good croque-monsieur, and the one at Muse in the Hunter is one of the best. What's their secret?"
James Glanville, Newcastle, NSW

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  • 2 smoked pork hocks (about 800gm each)
  • 2 litres (8 cups) chicken stock
  • 300 ml dry white wine
  • 2 each onions, celery stalks and carrots, chopped
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8 thick slices sourdough bread
  • 150 gm Gruyère, finely grated
  •  
  • Dijon béchamel
  • 60 gm butter, diced
  • 60 gm plain flour
  • 400 ml milk, warmed
  • 100 gm Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp finely grated nutmeg
  •  
  • Watercress salad
  • 2 cups (loosely packed) watercress
  • 8 cornichons, halved
  • 3 golden shallots, thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
01   Rinse hocks, place in a large saucepan with stock, wine, vegetables, thyme and garlic and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until meat easily comes away from the bone (1½-2 hours). Set hocks aside to cool. Strain liquid into a saucepan and boil until reduced by two-thirds (10-15 minutes). Shred meat, add to reduced stock, season to taste and refrigerate.
02   Meanwhile, for Dijon béchamel, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then gradually add flour, stirring until smooth (3-4 minutes). Gradually whisk in warmed milk and stir continuously until thickened (4-5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in mustard and nutmeg.
03   Preheat oven to 180C and line an oven tray with baking paper. Generously spread half the bread slices with béchamel, top with pork mixture and sandwich with remaining bread. Scatter generously with Gruyère and season to taste. Place on prepared tray and bake until cheese melts (8-10 minutes), then finish under a hot grill for a golden-brown top (3-5 minutes).
04   For watercress salad, toss ingredients together in a bowl and serve with croque-monsieurs.
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