A Croque Madame or a Croque Monsieur (French pronunciation: [kʁɔk məsjø]) is a hot sandwich made with ham and cheese. The dish originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. The name is based on the verb croquer (“to crunch”) and the word monsieur (“mister”). The sandwich’s first recorded appearance on a Paris café menu was in 1910. Its earliest mention in literature appears to be in volume two of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time in 1918.
In Britain and America, a Croque Madame simply substitutes sliced chicken for the ham, with no sign of an egg.
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 1/2 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (1 1/3 cups)
- 8 slices firm white sandwich bread
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked ham (preferably Black Forest)
- 4 large eggs
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Whisk in salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 1/3 cup cheese until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and cover the surface directly using a sheet of wax paper.
Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce evenly over each of 4 slices of bread, then sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese (1/4 cup per slice). Spread mustard evenly on the remaining 4 bread slices and top with ham, dividing it evenly, then invert onto cheese-topped bread to form sandwiches.
Lightly oil a 15- by 10-inch shallow baking pan.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately low heat, then cook sandwiches, turning over once, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes total. Remove from heat and transfer sandwiches to the baking pan, then wipe out skillet with paper towels.
Top each sandwich with 1/3 cup sauce, spreading evenly. Broil sandwiches 4 to 5 inches from heat until sauce is bubbling and golden in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the broiler and transfer the pan to lower a third of the oven to keep sandwiches warm.
Heat remaining tablespoon butter in a nonstick skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then crack eggs into skillet and season with salt and pepper. Fry eggs, covered, until whites are just set and yolks are still runny about 3 minutes. Top each sandwich with a fried egg and serve immediately.
Cooks’ note: The egg yolks in this recipe will not be fully cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area. You can use pasteurized eggs (in the shell) or cook eggs until yolks are set.
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