A croque madame is so much more than a grilled ham and cheese. In signature French fashion, this otherwise humble sandwich is drenched in a decadent, cheesy sauce, then broiled in the oven until bubbling and golden. A fried egg on top is the crowning glory.
Ham and Gruyere Croque Madame
4 Tbs. (2 oz./60 g.) unsalted butter
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) whole milk, warmed
1 cup (4 oz./125 g.) shredded Gruyere cheese
5 tsp. Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 slices good-quality firm white sandwich bread
4 large eggs
1/2 lb. (250 g.) thinly sliced Black Forest ham
In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Let bubble without browning, whisking frequently, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the warm milk, raise the heat to medium, and bring to a gentle boil, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 3/4 cup (3 oz./90 g.) of the cheese and 1 teaspoon of the mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl, placing a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the sauce, and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer and bake, turning once, until toasted on both sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a large frying pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the pan. Season with salt and pepper, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the whites are set, about 2 minutes for sunny-side-up eggs. Or carefully flip the eggs and cook to the desired doneness.
Preheat the broiler. Spread 4 bread slices with the remaining 4 teaspoons mustard. Add an equal amount of the sliced ham and 1 tablespoon of the sauce to each slice. Top with the remaining bread slices. Return the sandwiches to the prepared baking sheet. Spread the remaining sauce over the tops of the sandwiches, and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of the remaining cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to individual plates, top each with a fried egg, and serve at once.
Find more great recipes for sunrise specialties in our book Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts, by Rick Rodgers.