In France, Croque Madame is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with the addition of a simple white cream sauce and fried egg. The Croque Monsieur is the same, but without the egg. This creamy, cheesy, slightly salty, flavorful French delight originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack or lunch. Typically, Emmental or Gruyère cheese is used.
The name is based on the verb croquer (“to crunch”) and the word monsieur (“mister”). This well-known, countrywide sandwich’s first recorded appearance on a Parisian café menu was in 1910. Croque Monsieur and Madame, in France, are as common to the French as grilled cheese is to us Americans; still served in café’s everywhere in France today.
Makes 2 servings; can be doubled
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup each of grated parmesan and Gruyere cheeses
4 slices firm white sandwich bread
4 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham
4 ounces sliced Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
2 fried eggs, over easy
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir 1-2 minute. You’ve just made a roux! Gradually whisk in milk. Add nutmeg and bay leaf. Increase heat to medium-high and boil until sauce thickens, whisking constantly, about 2-3 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Add grated parmesan and Gruyere, stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat broiler. Place 2 bread slices on work surface. Spread each half with Dijon, ham and sliced Gruyère. Top with remaining bread. Heat heavy large skillet over low heat. Brush sandwiches with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Add to skillet and cook until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. I use a Panini press. Transfer to small baking sheet. Spoon sauce, then grated cheese over sandwiches. Broil until cheese begins to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Top with fried egg and chives. I used fresh thyme for the photos.