Is there a bistro in France that doesn’t feature a Croque Madame or Croque Monsieur on the menu? Probably not. This decadent, hot ham-and-cheese sandwich is so delicious, you will think there is much more to making such a casual, hearty dish than there actually is. The sandwiches are topped with a creamy bechamel sauce and broiled to a golden brown. The difference between the Madame and the Monsieur is that the Madame is served with a lovely fried egg on top. (We went that route for our take.)
FOR THE BECHAMEL
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole or 2% milk
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
Pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
1. In a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir the mixture over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Slowly whisk in the milk. Continue whisking until smooth. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue mixing over medium heat until the sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon.
3. Turn off the heat and season the sauce with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set the sauce aside while you assemble the Croque Madames.
12 slices hearty sandwich bread (we recommend a
sliced French boule
from Whole Foods)
1½ pounds good-quality deli ham
6 thin slices Swiss or Gruyere cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat the broiler and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Spread a little Dijon mustard over 6 slices of the bread. Place 4 to 5 slices of the ham on top of each piece of bread followed by a piece of cheese.
3. Smear a thin layer of bechamel over the remaining slices of bread and place them on top to close the sandwiches. (Note: Save some sauce for step 5!)
4. Heat the butter in a large skillet and, working in batches, grill the sandwiches. Add a little more butter as you go if the skillet gets too dry.
5. Transfer the Croque Madames to the lined baking sheet and spread the tops with 1 tablespoon each of the remaining bechamel.
6. Place them under the broiler until the tops are golden and bubbly. Turn off the broiler and leave them in the oven to stay warm.
7. In a separate skillet, heat a little more butter. Add the eggs, 2 or three at a time, and fry them until the whites are totally set but the yolks are still a little runny.
8. Sprinkle the fried eggs with a little salt and pepper. Use a spatula to place them on top of each Croque Madame. Serve immediately.
Spring Greens with French Vinaigrette
Because the Croque Madame is such a hefty sandwich, we like to serve it with a light green salad to help cut the richness of the cheese and cream sauce. The vinaigrette provides bright and tart flavors from the lemon juice and red wine vinegar with the more savory notes of the Dijon mustard and shallots.
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground
½ cup olive oil
8 to 10 ounces spring green mix
1. Place the minced shallots into a small mixing bowl.
2. Whisk in the vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper until well combined.
3. Continue mixing as you slowly add the olive oil until everything is incorporated.
4. Chill the dressing until you are ready to serve. Toss it over the spring greens.
This article was originally published in the May 2021 issue of 225 magazine.