Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Croque Madame or Monsieur

A hot ham and cheese sandwich, covered with a creamy Béchamel sauce, and finished with a fried egg. Simply omit the egg for a Monsieur.

Croque Madame or Monsieur

I love love love this sandwich and after I posted about having one for a late breakfast/early lunch over on Facebook a few days back, I've had several requests to post the recipe for the cheese sauce I used.

There are many variations to this French sandwich that dates back as far as 1910, and apparently started off as a cafe snack. Literally meaning crunch from the French word "croque," the monsieur or mister version is usually served with a Béchamel sauce and the madame with an egg atop, so named it is said because the egg resembles a woman's hat. Very often the sandwich is buttered and grilled in a pan, prepared much like a grilled cheese, but I followed a recipe from Jennifer Chandler's book, Simply Suppers, that called for broiling the sandwich instead, and it was simply marvelous.

Variations aside, Croque Monsieur or Madame, is basically a hot ham and cheese sandwich and somewhat reminiscent of a Kentucky Hot Brown to me. The addition of a spicy mustard gives it a wonderful kick and for mine, I used Colman's mustard, a very spicy British mustard, that was perfect for this blend of flavors.

Not at all a difficult sandwich to make and worth the effort, the trick is coordinating the making of the cheese sauce, with the use of the broiler, with the frying of some eggs, especially when you are making more than one of these at a time. It's nice if you have a helping hand to cook the eggs while you're doing the rest. The original recipe calls for Gruyère cheese, but I'm more apt to have Swiss on hand than Gruyère so I made that substitution since they are somewhat similar cheeses. To make this a Croque Monsieur, simply omit the eggs, though I highly recommend adding them. Just delicious.

Recipe: Croque Madame or Monsieur

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep/Cook time: 10 min | Yield: 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • Couple gratings of fresh nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 8 slices of toasted sandwich bread
  • Spicy mustard
  • 8 slices of smoked sliced deli ham
  • 4 fried eggs, done to taste

Preheat broiler. Meanwhile make a very light roux by melting the butter and stirring in the flour, cooking only about a minute. Whisk in the half and half slowly until fully incorporated, and continue whisking until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from burner and grate in nutmeg, adding the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the Swiss cheese. Stir until cheese is blended in, add salt and pepper and hold over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of half and half if needed to loosen.

Meanwhile, toast the bread under the broiler on both sides, leaving the oven door ajar. Warm the ham in the microwave. Spread a thin layer of mustard to one side of four slices of toast and top each piece with two slices of ham. Sprinkle each sandwich with about 1/8 cup of the Swiss cheese. Place open faced, under the broiler, with the oven door ajar, just until cheese is melted. Remove sandwiches and top with the remaining toast. Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the top of each sandwich. If sauce has thickened, stir in just a bit of half and half to loosen first. Divide the remaining Swiss cheese and sprinkle over the top of each sandwich. Place under the broiler, with the door ajar, just until cheese has melted and begins to lightly brown. Top with a fried egg and serve immediately.

~Cook's Notes~

I used Colman's mustard, a super spicy English mustard, which was fantastic with this sandwich, but any spicy mustard will do.

Variation: To make this a Croque Monsieur, eliminate the egg. Can also substitute Gruyère cheese for the Swiss. Turn them into Monte Cristo style Croque Monsieur sandwiches by dipping them in a batter made of 3 whisked eggs and about 2/3 cup of milk. Dip and pan fry over medium like a grilled cheese, until golden brown on both sides.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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©Deep South Dish
Adapted from Simply Suppers
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Posted by on April 12, 2011
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