Temptress! Croque Madame!

June 24, 2010

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It happened innocently enough; I was happily watching a movie on my couch (savoring every lazy ounce of vacation). Meryl Streep was on the flat screen and she was wooing Steve Martin in her big, fancy kitchen and frankly that was enough for me and my pajama pants.

That’s when it happened: the only character I’ll truly remember from the movie made her appearance: madame monsieur. This little vixen is actually a hot ham and cheese sandwich, which Meryl Streep pulls out of the oven as if she’s done it every day for the last decade. As you would expect from any ravenous food blogger, I was on the edge of my seat, drooling, cursing the director who was clearly so hell-bent on ruining my perfectly lazy evening.

I was lost in that sandwich — my mouth watering, my brain quietly turning on me and making plans to spend the evening cooking again. I can be strong willed, I can be stubborn, but I’m no match for a ham and cheese sandwich with a fancy French name. If you, like most humans, enjoy puppies/sunsets/decadent food, you’ll surely agree.

So, off to the market with visions of prosciutto and Gruyere I went. Of course, now feeling fully possessed by the idea of a warm, rich sandwich, I could not find it in my heart to stop with the madame monsieur.

After having recently died and gone to heaven at Senate Pub in Over the Rhine (their hot dog version of this sandwich is amazing), I felt fully obliged to go full throttle by drizzling the sandwich with béchamel sauce and then topping the whole thing with a fried egg. This, as you might have guessed, is called a Croque Madame — Madame Monsieur’s sexy older sister. Another phrase for it might be true bliss.

This is the sort of dish that is dangerous for me to know about much less have sitting aimlessly around the house. I made extras, naturally, but the combination of salty ham with cheese and the rich white sauce was too powerful. I’m hard pressed to think of anything more tempting than the gush of yolk that comes from perching a fried egg on … well … anything.

It’s cheap, it’s easy to make, it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. Let’s face it. It’s heaven.

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Croque Madame

Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
2 kaiser rolls (pull out any excess bread from the top of the roll)
2 large eggs
4 slices prosciutto
4 slices Gruyere cheese (or Swiss)

Procedure:

For béchamel sauce;
Place a small sauce pot over medium low heat and melt 2 tablespoons butter in it. Whisk in a rounded tablespoon of flour and cook 1 minute or so. Whisk in milk and bring to a bubble then drop heat to low. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. When sauce coats back of a spoon, turn off heat.

For fried eggs:
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet, over medium low heat. When butter melts add 2 large eggs, keeping the whites separate from each other. Fry until whites are set and yolk is slightly hardened.

For sandwiches:
To a second skillet, add a tablespoon of butter and melt. Add bottom of kaiser roll and toast lightly. Top the bread with cheese, ham and top of roll. Use a spatula to flip the sandwich on the other side. Cover with a pot lid to melt the cheese. (you may baste sandwich with additional butter, if desired.)

Top sandwiches with chopped béchamel sauce and a fried egg. Season with pepper.
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Nathan June 25, 2010 at 11:24 am

I do a version with black forest ham and dijon, but God help me I can’t fry an egg like you can. Do you use a non-stick? Cast iron?

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Courtney June 25, 2010 at 11:52 am

Niiiice! I’ll have to try it with flack forest ham. Frying an egg is so easy — especially when you don’t have to flip it! I just use a regular pan and a tbs of butter! (maybe that’s the trick?)

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Krs July 1, 2010 at 7:06 pm

croque madame could very well be my favorite sandwich in the wide world. First time I had one was in Paris. I asked my wife what’s this croque Madame? She said it’s a croque monsieur with a fried egg on top(I’m pretty sure she rolled her eyes as she was telling me). I was like a fried egg on top? Done and done. I never looked back.

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Courtney July 2, 2010 at 7:02 am

Exactly! There really are no words to describe a fried egg, right? And I’m totally jealous of your croque madame experience in Paris. I went to Paris when I was 10 and ate little more than jelly beans.

Reply

Julie July 2, 2010 at 9:30 am

You must go. The jelly beans are, indeed, better over there but the simplest croque in a non-touristy bistro is fantastic.

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