Some things are both classics and favorites, and ham and cheese tops the list around here. We usually toss one together for lunch or a quick snack, but sometimes we want to switch it up and make it a bit more snazzy. That’s when we make the simple but tasty ham and cheese a decadent and delicious Croque Madame. It’s a warm, melty ham and cheese sandwich on toasted bread, covered with a velvety bechamel sauce and a shower of Gruyere cheese and a fried egg. If it sounds rich, you’re right–it certainly is. But if you’re going to indulge, this is the way to do it.
One of the most memorable Croque Madame sandwiches I’ve ever eaten was at a restaurant for brunch where they served it with a pile of skinny shoestring fries and a garlicky aioli. It was perfect, and I alternated dipping the fries in the aioli and the glorious runny egg yolk. It, like any good meal, resonated with me long after it was over and inspired me to try creating one at home. Put this one on your menu soon; we like it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and it’s a favorite to serve to company. Ham and cheese never felt so fancy.
3 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Flour
1 1/2 cups Milk
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
Pinch fresh grated Nutmeg
Kosher Salt and fresh cracked Black Pepper
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt butter until foamy. Add flour and whisk to combine. Stir until smooth and let cook for a couple minutes until it is smooth and bubbling slightly. Slow add milk, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add grated parmesan and nutmeg, then salt and pepper well to taste. Set aside and use for Croque Madame sandwiches, fold in pasta and top with grated cheese for a baked Macaroni and Cheese, or use for a Cauliflower Gratin.
Croque Madame Sandwiches
8 slices Bread (I used Vienna bread from the grocery store bakery)
4 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
4 ounces thinly sliced Ham
4 ounces sliced Swiss or Asiago Cheese
1/2 recipe Parmesan Cream sauce
4 ounces Gruyere Cheese, grated
Canola or Vegetable Oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place bread on baking sheet and toast until very slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and spread mustard on 4 of the slices of bread. Layer on ham then cheese and top with remaining bread slices. Top the four sandwiches with parmesan cream sauce and grated gruyere cheese. Return pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Increase oven to broil setting. Keep a close eye on the sandwiches and broil for 1-2 minutes or until golden and bubbly on top.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet. Fry eggs until whites are set and yolks are still runny. Season with salt and pepper.
Place eggs on top of sandwiches and serve. These are great with a salad, fruit, fries and aioli, or just on their own. All is well as long as these are on the plate.
Don’t like runny yolks? No problem. Cook the egg to your liking. Don’t like eggs at all? Still no problem! Leave the egg off the sandwich and you’ve got yourself a Croque Monsieur. Still delicious!