I'm pausing from my regularly scheduled blog ideas, to post this recipe for my son, Ryan.
If you are interested in this French classic, then please read on. If not, check back in a few days when I'm back on track.
I received my Fine Cooking magazine last week and was happy to see a recipe for Croque-Madame. I knew immediately that I HAD to blog this for my college boys, who had fallen in love with Croque-Monsieur while on a World War II history tour in Europe together.
Several years ago when my oldest daughter was 4 hours away from home attending then "Rick's College", I would get several phone calls each week. This was pre-cell phone, which meant that I had extremely high telephone bills each month. Her conversations would start out something like this..."Hi Mom, how to you make...." It seemed that our phone bill matched the price of her tuition! I enjoyed every moment on the phone with her explaining "how to make...."
Now having three college students pushed me toward creating this blog. Now they can pull up a recipe online with the step-by-step instructions they may need.
I now dedicate this blog to my two sons, my french daughter and the loyal college student followers that I have. This one's for you!
Croque-monsieur is basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a cream sauce ladled over top then broiled. A croque-madame is a croque-monsieur with an egg on top.
You will need unsalted butter, all purpose flour, milk, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, nutmeg, salt and pepper, Dijon mustard, Gruyere cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese,12 oz. ham, sliced thin and 8 slices of country-style bread. You really don't want to use that airy stuff. I put that in the same category as butter and maple syrup and I'm sure you don't want me to go there.
In a sauce pan melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
Whisk the two together over medium-low heat. Just until it begins to turn beige, about 20 seconds.
Whisk in the milk.
Continue whisking for another 2-3 minutes.
The mixture will begin to thicken and bubble.
Add the Worcestershire sauce.
Add the fresh thyme leaves.
Grate in some fresh nutmeg, if available. If you don't have whole nutmeg, just use some ground that you already have. You really want the addition of the nutmeg. It's a great marriage to a Bechamel sauce.
Add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Set the sauce aside for a moment while you assemble the ham and cheese sandwich. You want to keep the sauce warm.
Take two slices of bread per sandwich.
Spread a teaspoon of Dijon between each slice.
More if you love Dijon.
Spread a layer of Gruyere on a bread slice.
Layer on the ham.
Top with more Gruyere cheese.
Top with remaining bread.
Position a rack 4-inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler on high.
On a griddle or in a 12-inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter.
Place a sandwich on the griddle, using medium heat until brown and crisp.
Turn over once the bread has browned and cook the other side until crisp and brown. Repeat with all of the sandwiches.
Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet.
Ladle the Bechamel sauce over each of the ham and cheese sandwiches.
The sauce will run down the sides. This is good!
Sprinkle the tops with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Place under the pre-heated broiler.
Don't start doing dishes or cleaning up at this point! DO NOT leave the croque-monsieur alone under the broiler for even a seconds. Carefully watch so that it doesn't burn.
Broil until the sauce begins to brown and bubble.
There you have it - Croque-Monsieur!
Looks a little plain. Why don't we turn it into a "Croque-Madame"?
In a small skillet, melt 2 teaspoons of butter.
Add an egg.
Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Cook until the whites have set and the yolk is still runny - this is called "Sunny Side Up".
Once the egg is cooked lay it on top of the "croque-monsieur".
Sprinkle with a little fresh parsley and voilà! Croque-Madame!
Serve with mixed greens tossed with a french vinaigrette for a main course dinner.
Croque-Monsieur et Croque-Madame
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk (whole or 2%)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
8 slices country-style white sandwich bread
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces Gruyere Cheese
12 ounces sliced ham
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
4 eggs, optional
For the sauce:
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking just until it turns beige, about 20 seconds. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream; continue whisking until smooth,thickened and slightly bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce, thyme, nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside. Whisking occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.
For the sandwich:
Spread four of the bread slices with 1 teaspoon of Dijon. Layer the Gruyere and ham on the bread in this pattern: cheese, ham, cheese. Top with the remaining bread.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter on a griddle or a 12-inch skillet. Cook the sandwiches until brown and crisp, turning once halfway through the cooking, about 4 minutes, Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.
Ladle the bechamel sauce over the sandwiches, letting it run down the sides. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Place under a preheated broiler for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the top is beginning to brown. Remove from the boiler and with a spatula transfer to a serving plate.
Heat a 10-inch skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet and fry them sunny side up until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove from skillet and place on the egg.