Apr 12, 2016

Croque Madame

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
A croque madame is the queen bee of ham and cheese sandwiches.

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A croque madame is the queen bee of ham and cheese sandwiches. This gooey French classic is a timeless favorite for a reason; the creamy béchamel, thinly sliced ham, Gruyère, crisp bread and fried egg pair so well together. This fancy grilled cheese is the kind of sandwich I have dreams about.

Croque Madame

Croque Madame vs Croque Monsieur?

The distinction is that the Croque Monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese with béchamel on top while the Croque Madame is the same but with the addition of a perfectly cooked, sunny side up egg on top.

Bechamel is one of the “5 French Mother sauces” where a roux of butter and flower is whisked together with milk to make a creamy white sauce.

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Ham – Look for jambon de Paris, a cooked and unsmoked type of ham. If you cannot locate it look for another unsmoked, deli-sliced ham.
  • Bechamel sauce – Bechamel sauce is made from a roux base. Flour is cooked in butter to reduce the flavor of the flour in the sauce. It’s then simmered with whole milk to make a thick, creamy sauce served spread on the sandwich.
  • Gruyère – Gruyère is a hard cheese with a nutty, sweet flavor from Switzerland. The fact that it melts well (due to a high water to oil ratio) mixed with t’s distinct flavor makes it the perfect addition to anything from sandwiches to mac and cheese or fondue. If you can’t find Gruyère, I recommend substituting with another Swiss cheese like Emmental.

How to Make a Croque Madame

  1. Sauté the shallot. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add the shallot and sauté, stirring frequently, until they are translucent and tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Cook the flour in the butter. Add the flour and stir to combine, let cook about 1 minute, to cook the flour taste off. Add the thyme sprig to the pot then gradually add the milk and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the sauce has slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the bechamel. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove the thyme sprig or use a fine mesh strainer to strain the sauce. Return the sauce to low heat until ready to use to keep it warm.
  4. Heat oven. Preheat broiler on high. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Assemble the sandwiches. Place the slices of bread on the baking sheet. Top 2 of the slices of bread with 3 slices of ham each. Add about 3 tablespoons of the béchamel sauce over each slice, then use a knife to evenly spread it over the bread.
  6. Top with cheese. Top each slice of bread with about 1/2 cup of the Gruyère cheese.
  7. Broil the bread. Broil, checking frequently, until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 5 minutes.
  8. Fry the eggs. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the canola oil and heat through. Gently break each egg into the pan and fry until the whites of the egg have set and the yolk has thickened but is still runny, about 5 minutes.
  9. Remove the eggs. If the eggs start to sputter and bubble up, reduce the heat. Season with salt and pepper. When the eggs are ready use a spatula to remove the eggs from the pan onto a plate.
  10. Assemble and serve. Place one of the cheese-topped slices on top of one of the pieces with the ham, cheese side up. Place one of the eggs on top. Repeat with the remaining sandwich. Serve immediately.

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Croque Madame

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the béchamel:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Ground black pepper, as needed

For assembly:

  • 4 slices of French bread, cut ½” thick
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced ham, about 12 slices
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyère
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Instructions:

For the béchamel:

  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add the shallot and sauté, stirring frequently, until they are translucent and tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the flour and stir to combine, let cook about 1 minute, to cook the flour taste off. Add the thyme sprig to the pot then gradually add the milk and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the sauce has slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove the thyme sprig or use a fine mesh strainer to strain the sauce. Return the sauce to low heat until ready to use to keep it warm.

For assembly:

  • Preheat broiler on high. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place the slices of bread on the baking sheet. Top 2 of the slices of bread with 3 slices of ham each. Top all of the slices with about 3 tablespoons of the béchamel sauce, then use a knife to evenly spread it over the bread.
  • Top each slice of bread with about 1/2 cup of the Gruyère cheese.
  • Broil, checking frequently, until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 5 minutes.
  • Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the canola oil and heat through. Gently break each egg into the pan and fry until the whites of the egg have set and the yolk has thickened but is still runny, about 5 minutes.
  • If the eggs start to sputter and bubble up, reduce the heat. Season with salt and pepper. When the eggs are ready use a spatula to remove the eggs from the pan onto a plate.
  • Place one of the cheese-topped slices on top of one of the pieces with the ham, cheese side up. Place one of the eggs on top. Repeat with the remaining sandwich. Serve immediately.

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