Monday, November 17, 2014

Croque Madame

Croque madame is something I discovered in culinary school. How I had survived 24 years without them is beyond me!?! These are the delicious and overly decadent French version of grilled ham and cheese with the excellent addition of a fried egg on top. It's true comfort food and perfect for rainy days like today. 

Croque Madame

4 eggs 
1/4 cup of Asiago cheese (or Gruyere if you want to be uber French) 
1/4 cup parmesan cheese 
2 cups milk, warm 
1 1/2 tbs butter 
4 tsp Dijon mustard 
1/2 Gruyere or Emmental or a Swiss cheese of your choice 
12 slices of deli ham

8 pieces of rustic bread of your choice, I used Portuguese bread 
8 thin slices of tomato (optional) 

2 tbs ap flour 
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt 
Few cracks of black pepper 
2 tsp olive oil 

Large baking tray, lined with parchment or foil
Small pot
Measuring cups/spoons
Nonstick sauté pan 
Toaster or toaster oven 

Lightly toast all the pieces of bread. Set aside for later.

Melt the butter in the small pot over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour. Whisk and cook the roux for 1 minute and then add the warm milk. Bring the bechamel sauce to a simmer, while stirring so it doesn't burn on the bottom. Once it begins to thicken, add the asiago and parmesan cheese and turn off heat. Add a pinch of ground nutmeg and a few cracks of black pepper. Whisk until cheese melts and sauce thickens. This is called sauce mornay in French. Set this aside while you prep the sandwiches.

Using the Dijon mustard- spread 1 tsp on each of the 4 slices of bread. Top each piece of bread with 3 slices of ham each. Then add two slices of tomatoes per piece, if you're using and then divide the grated Gruyere or swiss amongst the 4 pieces. 

Turn on your broiler on high at this point and place the loaded sandwich halved onto your lined baking sheet. Place below the broiler and watch carefully as the cheese melts. 

After the cheese begins to melt, remove the sandwich halves and place the lightly toasted remaining bread pieces on top. Ladle the sauce mornay on top of each sandwich. Place the sandwiches back into the broiler oven and watch carefully as the top bubbles and begins to brown. Remove from the oven once they are all nicely toasted and bubbly. 

While your sandwiches broil, heat your sauté pan over medium to low heat and add olive oil. Crack your eggs into the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn heat to low and gently fry the eggs. I added water and a lid to almost poach my eggs. A runny yolk just makes the sandwich!  

Once the eggs are fried and the sandwiches have been broiled- place the egg on top and serve. I usually like to serve this sandwich with a lightly dressed arugula salad- just lemon and olive oil, salt and pepper. Easy and light which makes up for the rich sandwich!! Perfect for brunch! Enjoy it! Xo

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