Took a trip to France today. Well, in my mind, and in my kitchen. I have been wanting to make a Croque Madame for a long time. I am so glad I finally did. They were beyond amazing. Use a good quality French bread, or sourdough. In my opinion, go with sourdough. You must use shredded Gruyere cheese and great slices of ham. Want to make even a bit more fancier? Top with a nice duck egg.
This recipe will also work a Croque Monsieur. Just leave out the egg!
BECHAMEL SAUCE FOR CROQUE MADAME
Prepare the bechamel sauce. Heat the heavy whipping cream in the microwave until warm. Pulse in thirty second increments. In a saucepan, add the butter. Allow to melt and foam. Whisk in the flour to create a roux. Cook off the flour taste. Slowly incorporate the warm cream with a whisk. Season with nutmeg, garlic powder, kosher salt and pepper. Reserve.
Lay four slices of bread on a flat surface. Cover two of the slices with a touch of dijon (side facing up). Add a layer of shredded cheese on top of the dijon. Add two slices of ham to each, then add another layer of shredded cheese. If you wish, you can add a layer of dijon to the top slice (inside).
You will not be buttering the outside of the bread as you normally would with a grilled cheese. They will brown up in the pan with the melted butter. Heat up two tablespoons of butter in a cast iron or non-stick pan.
Place sandwiches in pan and allow to brown on both sides. I actually did mine in batches, because I wanted a uniform brown on each. I just added another tablespoon of butter to the cast iron pan before grilling the second sandwich. Remove grilled sandwiches from pan and place on a parchment lined baking pan. Turn the oven to broil.
Spoon bechamel sauce on the top of each sandwich. Add another generous layer of shredded Gruyere cheese on top of the bechamel. Place under broiler for about 4 to 5 minutes. You just want the cheese to melt and brown. While the sandwiches are broiling. Fry the eggs, sunny side up. I used duck eggs just because I love color and size of the yolk. Feel free to use regular eggs.
Remove Croque Madame from oven. Top each with the egg. Serve with a side salad, these roasted potatoes (recipe below), or even my Creamy Tomato Basil Soup.
Cut baking potatoes in half, lengthwise. Then cut each half into three or fours. Place in a bowl. Coat with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Bake at 410 degrees until crispy outside and tender inside.