Croque Madame is a French classic for a reason. It’s the ultimate ham and cheese sandwich topped with bechamel and a soft fried egg. What’s not to love?
This easy French bistro classic is the kind of recipe that requires a little more effort but oh man, is it worth it! There is no sandwich simpler than the humble ham and cheese. But then the French took it up a notch by making it even more glorious. Topping the sandwich with a generous spoonful of creamy bechamel sauce turns a simple sandwich into a masterpiece and then you add a soft fried egg and you have happiness.
Because it is such a simple sandwich it’s important you use the very best ingredients you can afford. Good, crusty bread (baguette or sourdough ideally but ciabatta will also work), good ham (I used Gypsy ham) and nutty Gruyère Cheese are all necessary. You can absolutely leave it at that, making this a Croque Monsieur, but adding a perfectly cooked egg on top is definitely the way to go.
Table of Contents
- Bread. I used ciabatta but sourdough, country bread or thick slices of white bread will be delicious too.
- Ham. Gypsy ham or Black Forest ham are good options.
- Cheese. Gruyere cheese, Comte, Cheddar, or any good melting cheese with good flavor will work.
- For the béchamel sauce: Butter, flour, milk, salt and black pepper. I also add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the sauce and other flavorings like thyme, nutmeg and cayenne pepper can also be added. Adding cheese to the sauce will create a Mornay sauce which will also work perfectly.
How to make a Croque Madame
Make the béchamel by melting the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add the flour to make a roux and cook for a minute or two, stirring. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth then allow to cook for a few minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Make the sandwich by layering the slices of ham and cheese on slices of buttered bread. Butter the outside of the bread then toast in a hot pan until golden brown. I prefer doing this in an oven-proof frying pan but you can also add the sandwiches to a sheet pan or baking sheet and brown them under the broiler. Spoon over the béchamel sauce and add a little more grated cheese then place in the oven and allow to broil for 5-6 minuted until golden brown and bubbling.
In the meantime, fry the eggs in a hot pan until done to your preference. Once the sandwiches are ready, top with the eggs and serve.
The difference is that ‘n Croque Madame has a fried egg on top whereas a Croque Monsieur is just a ham and cheese sandwich with béchamel on top, baked until hot and golden brown.
Croque Madame is a simple ham and cheese sandwich topped with creamy bechamel sauce and a fried egg.
Eggs Benedict is a dish consisting of toasted English muffins topped with poached egg (and often extra toppings like ham, crispy bacon, wilted spinach or smoked salmon), topped with hollandaise sauce. Hollandaise is an emulsified sauce made with butter and eggs.
Breakfast sandwich recipes
- Egg in a hole bacon grilled cheese
- Make-ahead freezer breakfast sandwiches
- Bacon, egg and creamed spinach breakfast toast
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1-1.5 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 8 slices bread toasted
- 12 slices ham I used Gypsy ham
- 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
- 4 eggs fried to your preference
- Pre-heat the broiler of the oven.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter then whisk in the flour to make a roux.
- Slowly pour in the milk while continuously whisking to create a smooth, rich sauce.
- Turn down the heat and allow to cook gently, whilst stirring, until the sauce is cooked through.
- Add the mustard and season to taste.
- Assemble the sandwiches by dividing the ham and cheese between 4 slices. Place in the oven, allowing the cheese to melt then top with the remaining slices of bread and a generous spoonful of bechamel sauce before returning to the oven.
- Allow to grill until golden brown then remove from the oven and top with the fried eggs.
- Serve immediately.