If you haven’t had a Croque Madame, or Croque Monsieur for that matter you are in for a treat! In typical French style they take something good and make it amazing. In this case they take a boring and simple grilled ham and cheese sandwich and turn it into an unctuous, rich and classy lunch item. The basics are still there – ham, bread, cheese – but it is enhanced with Bèchamel, Dijon mustard and a fried egg (for a Croque Monsieur, just lose the egg).
So here’s what you’ll need:
- A nice loaf of white or wheat bread, only four slices needed
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup milk
- 1 Tbsp Flour
- Pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
- 1 cup nice Gruyere cheese (a more refined flavour than cheddar, but still with great.. meltability?)
- 2 Tsp of Dijon mustard
- Several slices of quality deli ham
- 2 large eggs
- Salt and pepper
Start off by turning on your grill or broiler and putting the rack at the highest level. In a small saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter over high heat, whisk in the flour and cook until lightly golden (if you don’t cook the flour enough your sauce will be lumpy). Add the milk and a pinch or two of salt and whisk constantly until mixture thickens (around two minutes). Take off the heat and mix in half the cheese and the nutmeg. Now, spread the Dijon mustard on two of the slices of bread, top with ham, the remaining Gruyere, half of the Bèchamel sauce and some cracked pepper.
Top with the remaining bread to make two sandwiches. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a medium pan, when bubbling carefully place the two sandwiches in the pan. Fry until golden, flip and repeat, trying not to lose any of the delicious filling while you’re at it. When the sandwiches are golden and the cheese inside is melting transfer to a baking sheet. Top the sandwiches with the remaining Bèchamel sauce and place under the grill / broiler until bubbling (about two minutes). While the sandwiches are under the grill, heat another tablespoon of butter and fry the two eggs until cooked (better if still a bit runny). Remove the sandwiches from the grill, slice in half, drape the fried egg over the top, season and eat immediately, bon appétit.