- 1 bundle thin asparagus, trimmed of tough stems
- 1/2 pound mild ham, such as French ham or other imported mild ham or boiled ham, chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pasted or grated
- 1 small fresh chili pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 tablespoons mustard, Dijon or yellow
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire
- 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (1/3 palmful)
- About 2 tablespoons parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 round tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- Salt and pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups shredded cheddar or Gruyère cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
- 4 slices good-quality white bread or white peasant-style bread, such as Amy’s Bread
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Salt it and cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes. Cold shock, drain and reserve.
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
Place the ham in a food processor with the onion, garlic, chili pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, paprika, parsley and thyme. Pulse process into finely chopped deviled ham.
Heat the butter in medium size skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, raise the heat a bit, and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Thicken to coat a spoon, adjust the seasonings and stir in half of the total amount of each of the cheeses.
Arrange the bread on a baking sheet. Top with the ham, asparagus tips and a layer of thickened sauce. Sprinkle on a little extra of each of the cheeses and bake the croques until brown and bubbly. Serve with Deviled Eggs alongside or topped with eggs over-easy.