Saturday Cooking: Croque Madame

There are many variations of this wonderful French dish, which I enjoy for lunch on some Saturdays.

People use a variety of different kinds of bread, but my favorite is the French equivalent of white bread, what in France is called pain de mie. Pepperidge Farms makes a white bread that approximates it.

Often, this sandwich is prepared with only melted gruyere cheese on top, and it is called a Croque Monsieur. Adding an egg makes it a Croque Madame.

At a brasserie in Paris, I saw the dish served with a full coat of bechamel sauce and browned gruyere. I have made it that way ever since.

Ingredients:

a ham-and-sliced-gruyere sandwich
butter, flour and milk (for bechamel sauce)
½ cup grated gruyere cheese
an egg, fried

Prepare the sandwich as you would a grilled-cheese sandwich, buttering a pan and browning it on both sides. Set aside.

To make the bechamel sauce, prepare a roux with about two tablespoons of flour and some melted butter. Mix thoroughly over low heat in a pot and add about a cup of milk, along with salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. Raise the heat. and stir constantly until the milk comes to a slow boil, and the sauce begins to thicken.

Lower the heat, and add half the grated cheese. Add milk as necessary, so the sauce will evenly cover the sandwich before it goes in the oven.

Place a dab of bechamel sauce on the surface of an oven-proof plate. Place the sandwich on top, then pour the bechamel sauce over the top of it. Sprinkle the remainder of the grated cheese over the top of the sauce.

Broil on low until the cheese melts and browns. Meanwhile, fry an egg to place on top of the sandwich when it is ready.

The plate is going to be hot. Mind your hands, and the surface on which you serve the dish.

5 thoughts on “Saturday Cooking: Croque Madame

  1. I love the way you write about food and cooking. The respect you show for the story behind the meal and the care you show for the process you use in preparing it is comforting. Saturday cooking, bon appétit!

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