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Recipe: Croque Madam (or Monsieur)

Today at TBM central we made Croque Madam


The Croque Madam is a french version of the ham and Swiss melt. My wife was in the mood for a ham and Swiss sandwich and for some reason I wanted to punch it up a bit by fitzing with the recipe. a quick google search lead me to this sandwich, which sounded delightful. It is a french take on the hot ham and cheese sanwich covered in a cheesy sauce and topped with a fried egg. I was missing a key ingredient, the Gruyère cheese, so this is an approximate of the recipe. Even without that ingredient it was a delightful surprise. 

Besides that very particular cheese the ingredients are pretty simple, you need butter, flour, milk, and parmesean to make the sauce, and the sandwich is bread, ham and cheese. I figured it would be easy to whip up. 
So you melt the butter in a pan. This is sort of like making a rue, which I have never successfully made. I have a friend who is very adept at making it and has in the past won my affection by making a cheese sauce that she pours over her broccoli that is to die for. 
Once the butter is melted, and just bubbling a little, you add the flour. you are going to stir that until smooth
once it is smooth you pour in the milk. 
It is difficult to pour milk, wisk, and take a photograph. They say to add the milk slowly. I would pour, wisk, pour, then wisk. 
Once the milk has thickened you remove it from the heat and add your pepper, nutmeg, salt, etc. I threw in a little minced garlic to give it flavor. 
Also add your cheese, if you have the benefit of Guyere cheese then it would go in at this point. I just loaded up on parmesean. 
Also, while you were making the sauce you could also have been toasting your bread. They suggest you butter the bread on both sides to give it a little flavor before toasting it. 
Sandwich construction was typical. I put a dab of honey dijon mustard on each slice of bread. I used honey ham. My wife bought the prepackaged Sarah lee stuff. I would not recommend that unless you are unfortunate enough to not live close enough to a deli that can slice you as much ham as you want. My wife is not a fan of waiting on her food in the store. she didn't think I could taste the difference but I totally could. 
once again since I was missing the all important Gruyere cheese I decided to substitute with some baby swiss I had in the fridge. 
I was a little worried that the bechamel sauce was too runny. When I added it to the sandwiches it went everywhere. you pour it on and then throw the mix into the oven. you bake it for 5 minutes and then broil it for 2.5 minutes. The recipe said broil for 3-5 minutes but my oven is way too hot and it blacked my bread really fast. 
if I was leaving out the egg this would be a Croque Monsieur, but my wife was enamored with the egg addition so it was going to have to go Croque Madam for my madam. 

Pull out the sandwich and prep it for serving. I forgot to spray the tin foil and the bechamel sauce caused it to stick a little. It did puff up and had a lot more substance than I had expected when I originally poured it. 
Top those bad boys with an egg and you are ready to serve them. I cheated and added a quarter slice of cheese to the egg as well. 
Despite the black edges where the sauce didn't cover it came out very well. 
Sliced up it looked tasty.


It tasted wonderful. It was worth the work put in, even thought it was a minimal effort. My biggest concern was the sauce, and that turned out to be a wonderful surprise. I wondered what would happen if I sweetened the sauce a little to give it a flavor contrast. I don't know how that would work out. 

One note about the sauce. The first recipe I looked at called for 1.5 cups of milk, which ended up being way too much sauce for 3 sandwiches. I would cut that in the future because this is a specialty item and I did not know what to do with a whole cup of that sauce after I was done. Also, I would have used a thicker bread, like an Italian, or a brioche. I imagine that this sandwich would be divine with chunks of ham, like say what is leftover after Christmas dinner. I will have to keep it in mind to try at a later date. 



The Recipe: 

Croque Monsieur Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Croque Monsieur Ham and Cheese Sandwich

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • A pinch each of salt, freshly ground pepper, nutmeg, or more to taste
  • 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups grated)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (packed)
  • 8 slices of French or Italian loaf bread
  • 12 ounces ham, sliced
  • Dijon mustard

METHOD

1 Preheat oven to 400°F.
2 Make the béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium/low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick. Remove from heat. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the grated Gruyère. Set aside.
3 Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, a few minutes each side, until lightly toasted. For extra flavor you can spread some butter on the bread slices before you toast them if you want.
(Alternatively, you can assemble the sandwiches as follows in step four and grill them on a skillet, finishing them in the broiler with the bechamel sauce.)
4 Lightly brush half of the toasted slices with mustard. Add the ham slices and about 1 cup of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Top with the other toasted bread slices.
5 Spoon on the béchamel sauce to the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère cheese. Place on a broiling pan. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.
If you top this sandwich with a fried egg it becomes a Croque Madame.
Makes 4 sandwiches.

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