Ingredients // Makes 1 Sandwich // Prep time: 20 minutes
- 2 slices of bread
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 or 2 slices of ham
- ½ cup Gruyère, grated
- ½ tbsp. butter
- 1 egg
- Dash of salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup Gruyère, grated
- Pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg
Imagine you are perusing the streets of Paris or soaking in the sun by the Mediterranean port of Marseille, when you feel that gnawing pang of hunger creeping into your stomach. You want something traditionally French, cheap and relatively quick so you can get back to the fabulous French sights. What do you do? You slip into one of the many cafés or bistros that line the streets of any French city and you order a Croque Madame.
Croque Madame translates literally to: crusty ma’am. It’s a slight twist to the classic French grilled cheese, known as Croque Monsieur or crusty mister. In the female version, which originated in French cafés and bistros, the sandwich is topped with a fried egg, supposedly making it look like a woman’s hat, hence the name Croque Madame.
This recipe is quick and easy, just keep an eye on things when they’re cooking so you don’t end up with a burnt Crusty Ma’am, and all the ingredients can easily be found in your local American supermarket. If you’re feeling lazy you could even buy premade béchamel sauce, but I promise making it yourself will taste better, and only take a few minutes longer.
1. First prepare the béchamel sauce: in a small saucepan, melt 1 tbsp. of butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth (about 1 minute). Stir in the milk and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, 5-7 minutes. Remove from the stove and stir in ¼ cup of Gruyère and the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set this aside.
2. Place 1 slice of bread on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the mustard on this slice and then top with ham and remaining Gruyère. Broil until cheese begins to melt, 1-2 minutes.
3. Top with the other slice of bread and then pour the béchamel sauce over the top. Return to the broiler and broil until the sauce is bubbling and evenly browned, 3-4 minutes.
4. While the sauce is broiling, prepare the egg. In a saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium-high heat. Add the egg and season with salt and pepper. Cook as desired. (I prefer my yolks a bit runny, so this was about 3-4 minutes).
5. Remove sandwich from broiler and top with the fried egg. Serve immediately.