The first Croque Madame I ever had was not too long ago, at a lovely restaurant called Bess Bistro owned by Sandra Bullock and where a friend of mine works behind the line. I’m pretty sure my eyes rolled to the back of my head upon my first bite, it’s the very definition of savory. I haven’t been able to make it back to Bess, so I decided to take matters into my own semi-capable hands, and made it myself. And man oh man, I could have this every single night for dinner. Meaty, cheesy, eggy… yup, I might make it again tonight.
A Croque Monsieur is a classic French bistro dish. Add an egg and it’s a Croque Madame. This is no average grilled ham and cheese. The kicker is the mornay, or more appropriately, yummy cheese sauce. It adds this creamy element to the sandwich. Some tips to make this eye-roll-worthy: a nice, hearty sourdough loaf that you can slice thick; good quality deli ham (I bought some delicious applewood smoked kind made by Central Market); good quality gruyere; and make the mornay fresh. I paired my Croque Madame with a nice green salad with balsamic vinaigrette to keep it French and get something healthy in there. Perfect for dinner or lunch!
- 2 thick slices of sourdough loaf
- 1/4 lb. good quality deli ham, shaved or sliced very thin
- 1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino, grated
- 2 eggs, cooked medium (optional)
To make the mornay sauce: melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to medium low and add the milk and bay leaf. Whisk until thick . Add parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Take off heat.
Butter one side of the sourdough slices and put under the broiler. Toast until golden brown. Keep and eye on it! It can burn easily. Toast other side of bread under the broiler.
Assemble the sandwich: Take the slice of bread, buttered side up, and top with the ham. Spread a good amount of mornay on top of the ham. Top each slice with 1/2 cup of gruyere. Stick it back in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Take out of the oven and top with egg if desired.