Who doesn’t love a classic ham & cheese sandwich. Even better is a French style ham and cheese sandwich called a Croque Monsieur . A Croque Madame is a Croque Monsieur with a fried egg on top. Both the Croque Monsieur and the Croque Madame are rich, gooey, hearty, and satisfying sandwiches. The Croque Madame is one of my favorites! I’ve always loved a good grilled ham and cheese sandwich!
Most recipes for the Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame call for a bechamel sauce. Bechamel is a white sauce used to moisten the sandwich and makes the sandwich even richer in taste. But, this recipe though calls for a lovely Mornay sauce.
Bechamel is a simple sauce made with eggs, but Mornay sauce is a luxurious sauce made with cheese and seasoned with a hint of nutmeg and cloves giving it a wonderfully distinct flavor. The Mornay sauce makes this gorgeous sandwich completely and utterly decadent.
The recipe for this classic French style ham and cheese sandwich comes from “Bouchon” by Thomas Keller. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better recipe than this one by Mr. Keller. It’s a keeper!
Yield: 4 servings
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 8 slices of Brioche or sandwich bread
- 8 ounces thinly sliced ham
- 8 slices Swiss cheese (Gruyere , Jarlsberg, etc.)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup Mornay Sauce (recipe below)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped Italian parsley
- 3 tablespoons
- 1/2 cup diced Spanish onion
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 black peppercorns
- 3 whole cloves
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Comte or Emmetaler cheese (use Jack cheese or Fontina if Comte or Emmetaler are difficult to find)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
- Lay out the bread slices. Divide the ham among them, making sure it doesn't extend over the edges of the bread. Place the cheese over the ham. If the cheese is larger than the bread, bend it over to fit.
- Heat two large ovenproof nonstick pans or griddles over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to each pan. When it has melted, add half the bread (cheese side up) to each pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown.
- Transfer the pans to the oven for 2 to 3 minutes to melt the cheese.
- Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a large oven proof skillet and fry the eggs.
- Cook the eggs until the bottoms are set, then place the skillet in the oven for a minute to set the top of the whites.
- When the cheese is melted, remove the sandwiches from the oven.
- Place 2 slices together to make each sandwich and put each sandwich on a serving plate.
- Place an egg on top of each sandwich. Pour about 1/4 cup of the sauce over the white of each egg, leaving the yolk uncovered. Grind pepper over each egg and garnish the eggs with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
- Serve with Pommes Frites (French fries)
- Melt the butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring occasionally for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
- Sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly so that the roux doesn't burn or color.
- Whisking constantly, add the milk and cream and whisk until fully incorporated.
- Bring to a simmer, whisking, then add the bay leaf, peppercorns, and cloves. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and keep from scorching. Whisk occasionally as the sauce cooks for about 30 minutes. (If the sauce does begin to scorch, pour it into a clean pot - don't scrape the bottom of the pan!)
- Remove the sauce from the heat and season to taste with salt, grated nutmeg, and a pinch of white pepper.
- Strain the sauce, add the cheese, and whisk to melt. Use immediately. The sauce can be thinned with a little milk or heavy cream.