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A twist on the classic French dish! This croque madame sandwich is delicious served hot after a long morning out on the slopes.

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IngredientsServes: 4

  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 250ml milk
  • 25g French mountain cheese (e.g. Comte), grated
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (40cm to 50cm) baguette
  • 4 thin slices ham or prosciutto
  • 4 eggs

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:18min ›Ready in:38min

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Line a baking tray with some baking parchment to help with the washing up.
  2. First of all, make a silky cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan in a medium heat and then stir in the flour to make a roux. Gently cook until the roux is sizzling, then pour in the milk whisking all the while. Use your wooden spoon to collect all the roux from the corners of the pan, still whisking frantically.
  3. Cook until the sauce is gently bubbling, still stirring and whisking and then bubble for a few minutes until the taste of the flour disappears. Add the cheese, bar around 25g, stirring it in well, and then season generously, especially with black pepper. It forms a great partnership with the cheese. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.
  4. Cut four holes, around 5cm in diameter, in to the top of the baguette. Remove the crust and then hollow out a little of the soft bread. Make sure that you don't cut straight down through the crust below. Line the hole with the ham slices.
  5. Break open the eggs and let around half of the white fall away. Perhaps keep that for making macaroons or meringues! Then carefully slide the yolk into the bread cavity along with ham. Spoon the sauce over the top, being as generous as you dare!
  6. Bake the baguette for 12 minutes until bubbling. Remove from the oven cut into four portions, either side of the egg and serve with a chilled pastis or biere blond.

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Croque Madame

My first memories of Paris involve ordering a Croque Madame at little cafe and being in awe of this simple yet classic French cafe snack. Eaten with a simply dressed salad, it’s a thing of beauty!

Method
  1. Melt the butter in a small pan. Brush one side of each slice of bread with some of it. Grill under a medium hot grill until golden.
  2. Stir the flour into the remaining butter with the thyme leaves, cook over a low heat for 1 minute, gradually whisk in the milk until smooth, cook until thickened. Stir in the wholegrain mustard and 30g cheese.
  3. Spread the Dijon onto the un-grilled side of two of the slices of bread, place a slice of ham and the remaining cheese on top. Place the remaining grilled bread toasted side up on top and press down gently, heat through.
  4. Top with the béchamel sauce and grill for 5 minutes until bubbling and golden.
  5. In a frying pan, fry the eggs to your preference, place on top of the croque and garnish with a little thyme.

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Ingredients

4 thick slices of white sliced loaf

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

4 thick slices of white sliced loaf

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

You'll Need
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What is a croque madame?

For those of you who do not know what a Croque Madame is a crunchy grilled chicken / ham and cheese sandwich topped with an egg sunny side up. If you’d rather exclude the egg in the recipe, you would basically have a Croque Monsieur.

My version of the recipe has some “American” flare to it… Instead of Gruyere Cheese, I decided that I would use some cheddar cheese. I know, shame on me, but I didn’t have any Gruyere, so I compromised. I made my own version of the recipe, and I have to say, it sure tasted good!


    • 8 slices white or whole-wheat sourdough bread
    • 8 ounces Gruyère cheese, sliced into 24-32 1/16-inch-thick slices
    • 12 ounces smoked ham, such as Black Forest, sliced into 12-16 1/16-inch-thick slices
    • 4 extra-large eggs
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • Fleur de sel or kosher salt, to taste
    • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  1. To assemble the sandwiches:
    1. Set half of the slices of bread buttered side down, and cover them with the cheese slices, folding them back in toward the middle if they extend past the edges of the bread. Place 3 or 4 slices of the ham in an even layer over the cheese, and place the top slice of bread over the ham, buttered side up.
    2. Grill the sandwiches in a two-sided grill or on a heavy-bottomed pan, using clarified butter and turning once. Place on serving plates.
    1. Crack two eggs into two separate bowls to check that the yolks aren’t broken. In 2 6-inch non-stick skillets, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat, until it starts to bubble. Pour 1 egg into each pan, being careful not to break the yolks. Add a teaspoon of water to each pan, sprinkle the eggs with fleur de sel, and cover the pans with lids. Cook the eggs for about 3 minutes for a soft-cooked egg and 5-6 minutes if you like your eggs firm. Wipe out the skillets, and fry the other 2 eggs in the remaining butter in the same manner. Center a fried egg over each of the grilled sandwiches and sprinkle with pepper.

    Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book by Nancy Silverton, with Teri Gelber. Copyright © 2002 by Nancy Silverton, with Teri Gelber. Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved.

    Suzanne Goin graduated from Brown University. She was named Best Creative Chef by Boston magazine in 1994, one of the Best New Chefs by Food & Wine in 1999, and was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2003, 2004, and 2005. She and her business partner, Caroline Styne, also run the restaurant A.O.C. in Los Angeles, where Goin lives with her husband, David Lentz.

    Teri Gelber is a food writer and public-radio producer living in Los Angeles.


    Croque Madame

    Set half of the slices of bread buttered side down in the griddle or cast iron skillet, and cover each with a slice of cheese. Place 3 or 4 slices of the ham over the cheese, and place the top slice of bread over the ham, buttered side up. Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat. Cook sandwiches until bottom is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes per side. Remove sandwiches and place on a plate. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the top of each sandwich, and then place a slice of cheese on top. Put the sandwiches back onto the griddle or skillet then place in oven, cooking until golden brown and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

    Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet over high heat. Cook each egg sunny side up. Turn egg over and cook 3 minutes longer for a soft-cooked egg, or 5 minutes longer for a hard-cooked egg. Repeat with remaining butter and eggs.

    Place one fried egg atop each sandwich. Season egg to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sandwich immediately.


    Croque Madam

      1) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Brush both sides of the bread with melted butter and pop them into the oven to toast on both sides, you will most likely have to flip them halfway through.

    2) In a small saucepan, melt together the butter, add the flour and cook them together stirring constantly for about a minute. Add the milk, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook the sauce on medium heat until it thickens, it should take about 5 minutes, stir in the cheese and set aside.

    3) Switch the broiler on to high. To assemble the sandwich, smear some of the mustard on one slice of the toasted bread, lay one slice of cheese followed by a couple slices of ham and finished off with another slice of cheese. Top with the other slice of bread, smear some of the bechamel on top of the bread and top it with a slice of cheese.

    4) Pop the sandwiches under the broiler but make sure your oven rack is not right under the broiler otherwise the cheese will burn.

    5) While the top is browning, quickly fry some eggs in a little oil in a skillet for just a few minutes or until the whites set but the yolk is still runny.

    6) Top each sandwich with a fried egg, season with a touch of salt and pepper and dig in!


    Croque madame

    This croque madame recipe is a classic sandwich, a true cheese-fest for the discerning toastie lover. Many love the eggless version of this dish – the croque monsieur – but what dishes can't be improved with a fried egg on top?

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    A croque madame is a very special kind of sandwich. A sandwich to take time over. A sandwich to share.

    They don’t make them like this anymore.

    There are so many delicious layers to a croque madame. One of these layers might be enough for an everyday sandwich, but this feast just keeps on adding.

    It starts with a ham and cheese sandwich – layers of baked French ham, nutty Gruyère cheese and a little Dijon mustard, all extremely tasty. Next, the sandwich is fried in butter until crisp, golden and very melty. But we have not finished yet.

    A thick, creamy, milky béchamel, flavoured with yet more Gruyère and perhaps a little Parmesan, is spooned generously on top. This is, of course, sprinkled with yet more cheese, before being grilled until caramelised and bubbly.


    Croque Madame Casserole

    Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish.

    Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over low heat until bubbling. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thick and bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes more. Whisk in the mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

    Pour a thin layer of the sauce into the prepared baking dish and cover it with 5 or 6 slices of the bread, then slices of the ham and an even layer of the Gruyere. Repeat the layers once more, ending with a third layer of sauce to cover all. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes. Remove it from the oven and cut into 6 equal pieces.

    Working in 2 batches, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crack 3 eggs into the skillet and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the whites are nearly set, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the eggs and continue cooking until the whites are completely set, about 1 minute more. You’re going to top each portion of the casserole with a fried egg. Repeat with the remaining 3 eggs and 1 tablespoon butter. Top with Gruyere and place it in the oven for a few minutes until cheese melts.


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    Classic croque madames are French ham and cheese sandwiches, toasted and topped with béchamel sauce and fried eggs, a perfect bistro lunch or late-night snack. But shrunk down to one-bite size, croque madames become fabulous dainty appetizers for a cocktail party or daytime reception. Instead of frying each sandwich individually the traditional way, use the oven to first toast the bread, then heat up the ham and béchamel and melt the cheese for a whole tray of sandwiches at one time. Cut them into bite-sized portions and top with tiny fried quail eggs for an irresistible little bite that’ll get all your guests talking.

    What to buy: Quail eggs can be found at well-stocked grocery stores, usually with the other eggs.

    Tips for Christmas, Eggs, and Ham

    Eggs should keep a consistent and low temperature. This is best achieved by placing their carton in the center of your fridge. The eggs should also remain in their original packaging to avoid the absorption of strong odors.

    It is wise to follow the “best by” date to determine overall freshness, but eggs can be tested by simply dropping them into a bowl of water. Older eggs will float while fresh eggs will sink. This is due to the size of their air cells, which gradually increase over time.

    Cooked eggs have a refrigerator shelf life of no more than four days, while hard-boiled eggs, peeled or unpeeled, are safe to consume up to one week after they’re prepared.

    The beauty of an egg is its versatility. Eggs can be cooked in a variety of ways. Here are some tips in accomplishing the four most common preparations.

    Scrambled: Whip your eggs in a bowl. The consistency of your scrambled eggs is a personal preference, though it seems like the majority of breakfast connoisseurs enjoy a more runny and fluffy option. In this case, add about ¼ cup of milk for every four eggs. This will help to thin the mix. Feel free to also season with salt and pepper (or stir in cream cheese for added decadence). Grease a skillet with butter over medium heat and pour in the egg mixture. As the eggs begin to cook, begin to pull and fold the eggs with a spatula until it forms curds. Do not stir constantly. Once the egg is cooked to your liking, remove from heat and serve.

    Hard-boiled: Fill a pot that covers your eggs by about two inches. Remove the eggs and bring the water to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, carefully drop in the eggs and leave them for 10-12 minutes. For easy peeling, give the eggs an immediate ice bath after the cooking time is completed. For soft-boiled eggs, follow the same process, but cut the cooking time in half.

    Poached: Add a dash of vinegar to a pan filled with steadily simmering water. Crack eggs individually into a dish or small cup. With a spatula, create a gentle whirlpool in the pan. Slowly add the egg, whites first, into the water and allow to cook for three minutes. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer to kitchen paper to drain the water.

    Sunny Side Up/Over Easy/Medium/Hard: For each of these preparations, you are cracking an egg directly into a greased frying pan. For sunny side up, no flipping is involved. Simply allow the edges to fry until they’re golden brown. To achieve an over easy egg, flip a sunny side up egg and cook until a thin film appears over the yolk. The yolk should still be runny upon serving. An over medium egg is flipped, fried, and cooked longer until the yolk is still slightly runny. An over hard is cooked until the yolk is hard.

    Eggs can easily be frozen, but instructions vary based on the egg’s physical state. As a general rule, uncooked eggs in their shells should not be frozen. They must be cracked first and have their contents frozen.

    Uncooked whole eggs: The eggs must be removed from their shells, blended, and poured into containers that can seal tightly.

    Uncooked egg whites: The same process as whole eggs, but you can freeze whites in ice cube trays before transferring them to an airtight container. This speeds up the thawing process and can help with measuring.

    Uncooked yolks: Egg yolks alone can turn extremely gelatinous if frozen. For use in savory dishes, add ⅛ teaspoon of salt per four egg yolks. Substitute the salt for sugar for use in sweet dishes and/or desserts.

    Cooked eggs: Scrambled eggs are fine to freeze, but it is advised to not freeze cooked egg whites. They become too watery and rubbery if not mixed with the yolk.

    Hard-boiled eggs: As mentioned above, it is best to not freeze hard-boiled eggs because cooked whites become watery and rubbery when frozen.

    Hams like to sweat, so it’s important to not wrap hams firmly in plastic or foil to allow a level of circulation. For ham slices, take an airtight container and place a paper towel or sheet of wax paper on the bottom. Place the ham into the lined container and top with another paper towel or sheet of wax paper. Swap the papers when damp and the ham will last three to five days.

    For whole, bone-in hams, place the entire dish in a ham bag or cover with a thin dish rag. Both should be soaked in water with two tablespoons of white vinegar to preserve freshness, though it’s obviously ideal to cut the ham into smaller pieces and store using the methods above.

    Instructions

    1. 1 Heat the oven to 475°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place 1/3 cup of the cheese in a small bowl and set aside.
    2. 2 Place the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Melt 5 tablespoons of the butter and brush it on both sides of the bread, using all of it. Bake until the bread is toasted and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set the baking sheet and bread aside.
    3. 3 Meanwhile, make the béchamel: Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking occasionally, until it’s no longer raw-tasting, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in the milk and add the measured salt and nutmeg. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
    4. 4 Evenly divide the ham over 4 of the toasted bread slices, then evenly divide the remaining 1 1/3 cups of cheese over the ham.
    5. 5 Spread a thin layer of Dijon on the remaining 4 slices of bread and place them mustard-side down on top of the cheese. Press gently to compact the sandwiches. Cover the baking sheet tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the cheese is just starting to melt, about 5 minutes.
    6. 6 Remove the baking sheet from the oven and discard the foil. Whisk the reserved béchamel sauce until smooth, then spread it on the tops of the sandwiches, using all of it. Sprinkle the reserved 1/3 cup of cheese over the béchamel. Bake the sandwiches uncovered until the cheese on top is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, crack 8 of the quail eggs into a small bowl.
    7. 7 When the sandwiches are ready, remove them from the oven and set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Pour the 8 cracked eggs into the pan, spacing them evenly (if some of the whites stick together, separate them with a spatula). Season the eggs with salt and cook undisturbed until the whites are just set but the yolks are still runny, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the fried eggs to a large plate. Repeat with the remaining 8 eggs.
    8. 8 Trim the crusts from each reserved sandwich, then cut each sandwich into 4 smaller squares. Place the sandwiches on a serving platter, top each with a fried quail egg, and serve immediately.


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