For a while, I wasn’t keen on dishes that had eggs where the yolks and whites were separate. That meant all fried and poached eggs were things I avoided. I had never imagined a dish like croque madame being any good, and it’s because I had a strange, unexplainable stigma with eggs. Since shaking the stigma, I’ve come across a new best dish I’ve ever tasted, and it was croque madame at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze at the London. Since that experience, I had another positive experience at the nearby Hungry Fish Cafe. These superior forms of the classic sandwich have set me on a mission to create my own rendition.
I’m aware that some of you aren’t familiar with croque madame, so I’ll explain it. Croque madame is a croque monsieur sandwich with a fried, sunny-side-up egg on top. The egg is supposed to resemble a lady’s hat, hence the “madame” in the name.
So what’s croque monsieur? It’s basically a cheesy ham sandwich with bechamel sauce. Greens are normally served along side these sandwiches.
I could definitely make a great version with some of my resources.
The first thing I needed was good bread. Well, I made my own focaccia.
I found some amazing, homemade black forest smoked ham at Rolf’s Pork Store.
I picked up some eggs and greens from vendors at the Delmar Farmers Market. The greens got tossed with some salt, pepper, and a light drizzle of great olive oil.
Assembly was a bit tricky because I had to broil the sandwiches while making bechamel sauce and frying eggs. Setting up ahead was essential.
The cheese I used was an imported Gruyere (there’s really no great local substitute that I’ve found). I shredded it up for easy melting.
The bechamel was pretty simple. I made a roux with a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour and whisked some milk into it. I allowed this to come up to a simmer, and I added some salt, pepper, and cayenne.
To make the sandwiches, I sliced the focaccia and added some Dijon mustard. I topped that with some ham and Gruyere.
You’ll note that I added cheese on top of the ham and on top of the top of the sandwich. You can’t have too much cheese! These just went under the broiler until the cheese was bubbly.
I stacked the sandwiches, added sunny-side-up eggs on top, and spooned bechamel over the whites, and enough for it to trickle down the sides of the sandwiches. Some greens on the side, and I was good to go.
I was hungry, so I made two nice sandwiches per person, but any decent person would be full on just one. And it was just as awesome as it sounds and looks.
It was lots of work, but it was worth it!