Elevate your culinary experience with the exquisite and classic French dish, the Croque Madame. This gourmet delight seamlessly combines layers of savory ham, rich béchamel sauce, and gooey cheese, crowned with a perfectly fried or poached egg. Follow this professional and detailed recipe to recreate a taste of Parisian elegance in your own kitchen.
Béchamel Excellence: Begin by crafting a velvety béchamel sauce that forms the foundation of this culinary masterpiece. In a saucepan, expertly melt unsalted butter, whisking in all-purpose flour to create a golden roux. Gradually introduce milk, whisking continuously to achieve a smooth consistency. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg for that extra touch of sophistication. Set this sauce aside, allowing its flavors to meld.
Artful Assembly: Preheat your oven to a broil setting as you move to the assembly stage. Lay out four slices of quality white bread, generously spreading Dijon mustard to impart a subtle yet distinctive flavor. Artfully layer slices of premium ham on half of the bread, crowned with a lavish amount of grated Gruyère or Emmental cheese. Complete the sandwiches by gently topping them with the remaining slices of bread, creating a symphony of textures.
Béchamel Encore: Return to the béchamel sauce, spooning it generously over each sandwich, ensuring it blankets the entire surface. As the pièce de résistance, sprinkle an additional layer of grated cheese, creating a tantalizing combination that will melt in your mouth.
Broil to Perfection: Place the meticulously crafted sandwiches on a baking sheet and allow them to bask in the radiant heat of your oven’s broil setting. Keep a vigilant eye as the cheese transforms into a golden, bubbly symphony, signaling the perfect moment to retrieve these culinary masterpieces.
Egg-cellent Finale: While the sandwiches are achieving perfection, turn your attention to the final act. Fry or poach four eggs to your desired level of doneness, ensuring they are ready to grace the top of each Croque Madame with a burst of rich, velvety yolk.
Plate the Croque Madame with precision, presenting a visual feast that mirrors the indulgent flavors within. Serve this gourmet delight immediately, savoring the harmonious blend of textures and tastes that only a professionally crafted Croque Madame can offer.
For the béchamel sauce:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
For the sandwich:
- 4 slices of bread (typically a hearty white bread)
- Dijon mustard
- 8 slices of ham
- 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère or Emmental cheese
- 4 eggs
- Butter for spreading
- Make the béchamel sauce:
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add the flour and whisk continuously to form a roux. Cook for a minute or two until it’s golden but not browned.
- Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
- Cook the sauce until it thickens, then add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Set aside.
- Assemble the sandwiches:
- Preheat your oven to a broil setting.
- Lay out the slices of bread and spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on each slice.
- Place a slice of ham on half of the bread slices, followed by a generous amount of grated cheese. Top with the remaining slices of bread to make sandwiches.
- Add béchamel and more cheese:
- Spoon a generous amount of béchamel sauce over the top of each sandwich, making sure it covers the entire surface.
- Sprinkle additional grated cheese over the béchamel layer.
- Broil the sandwiches:
- Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and broil in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the tops are golden brown.
- Fry the eggs:
- While the sandwiches are broiling, fry or poach the eggs in a separate pan.
- Assemble Croque Madame:
- Once the sandwiches are done, remove them from the oven.
- Place a fried or poached egg on top of each sandwich.
- Serve the Croque Madame immediately while it’s hot and enjoy!