A croque (from the French verb croquer = to crack, to crunch) is a ham and cheese sandwich, but a very elegant sort if prepared correctly. Here is a quick version for Croque Madame, which differs from Croque Monsieur by the addition of a sunny side up egg.
You can take this simple dish to great culinary heights. Today, however, we are deliberately presenting a very simple but nevertheless delicate version.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (convection: 180 degrees Celsius).
In many recipes, this sandwich is topped with cheese on the inside and/or outside. However, that is not what we would do. Instead, we first cook a quick bechamel. To do this, gently melt butter over medium heat and then add the same amount of flour. This mixture is stirred well – preferably with a whisk – until a homogeneous mass has formed. Cold milk is then added to this mixture and stirred further until a creamy sauce is formed. Here are more detailed instructions.
The bechamel is delicately seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Now grated hard cheese is added to the hot bechamel and stirred further until a homogeneous sauce has formed again.
The bread is important, of course, and one would most likely use brioche for a fine, French version. But here we are talking about everyday cooking. We had “only” slices of wholemeal toast on this Sunday.
Whatever bread you use: Toast two slices in a toaster and then lightly butter them – or butter them first and then lightly toast them in a pan, buttered side down.
Lightly coat one slice with mustard (this is optional – we like to use honey mustard here), and place the ham of your choice in thin slices on the other.
Cover the half of the bread with the ham with a little of the delicious sauce and then close the sandwich.
Place the bread on an oven rack covered with aluminium foil (or on baking paper or a silicone mat on a baking tray) and cover it with the rest of the sauce. The sauce is welcome to coat the whole sandwich.
Put it in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until the edges are delicately browned. Don’t go beyond that, because the bread should not dry out.
Towards the end of the baking time, a sunny side up egg is fried. For this we recommend one of these techniques (and even more the second variation).
And there you have it – a quick croque madame. A simple delicacy.
And may the taste be with you.
Ingredients (per serving):
2 slices of bread, toasted and buttered
Ham to taste
A little mustard (optional)
8 g butter
8 g flour
100 – 120 ml milk
Salt, pepper and nutmeg
20 g hard cheese, grated (e.g. Gruyère or Emmental)
Herbs to taste (chives, parsley)