Ahhhh croque madame – the wicked sister to the oh-so-famous croque monsieur — the toasted sandwich to rival them all. She’s all about layers, texture and a classy richnesses that rivals all others. Miss Croque Madame is a French classic that is traditionally served in cafes and bistros as a brunch item or snack. She differs from her little brother with the addition of a classy, yet delicious hat; a fried, sunnyside up egg. Personally, I am a poached egg kinda-gurl; whereas husband is very not.
This recipe is not for the faint hearted .. it’s uber decadent, and it takes a little bit of time. If you want to make this recipe for breakfast I suggest making the bechamel and spinach and artichoke spread the night before.
– 4 pieces of good quality bread; I used ciabatta, but brioche is traditionally used
– 50g of grated gruyere
– 2 free-range eggs
– 2-4 slices of ham (real ham, not processed ham people)
– sharp dijon mustard – I’ve subbed this for wholegrain before and it’s just as good.
– 50g of melted butter
– salt and pepper
– 25g of butter
– 1 1/4 cup of full cream milk
– 1/8 cup of plain flour, sifted
– 25g of grana padano cheese, grated
– salt and pepper
Spinach and Artichoke Spread
– 100g of cream cheese
– 200g of baby spinach, wilted and drained
– 2/3 of a can of artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
– 2 tablespoons of your bechamel sauce
– 1/4 onion, chopped finely
– 1 clove of garlic, crushed
– extra virgin olive oil
– pinch of cayenne
1. Let’s begin with the bechamel. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, with a wooden spoon, for 2-3 minutes or until mixture slowly starts to grab together. Gradually stir or whisk in your milk and bring to the boil. Cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes until mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grana padano cheese, making sure the mixture is lump free and smooth before removing from the heat. If making the night before, place in a bowl with a glad wrap skin ensuring that it cannot breathe and sweat.
2. Onto the spinach and artichoke spread, yeah! In a small pot, sweat off the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant, add the cream cheese and two tablespoons of your bechamel, as well as a generous pinch of salt and pepper and stir until melted and combined. Add the artichoke hearts and wilted spinach, a pinch of cayenne and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl and allow to cool before refrigerating (if making the night before).
3. Now, onto the piece de resistance .. the lady herself. Chuck on a small pot, with a dash of vinegar and a heap of water on the stove. Turn her onto a medium high heat, not boiling. Grab a fry pan and chuck her on low.
4. Now with your bread, lay them out as you would making toasted samiches. The first layer will consist of a small amount of bechamel, spread evenly to the crust. Our second layer will be gruyere, and a cracking of pepper, and lastly our ham. On the remaining bread side, spread a thin layer of your sharp dijon mustard and assemble ready for the pan.
5. Begin to poach your eggs, as you would normally. Or fry them if you like.
6. Brush the bottom of the pan with some melted butter, and place your sandwich in the pan to begin frying. Press down gently ensuring you aren’t completely crushing the bread nor squeezing the bechamel out from your sandwich. Brush the top side with butter.
7. Flip over after 5-6minutes or until the underside of the bread is a beautiful toasted, golden brown.
8. Microwave a 1/3 portion of your spinach and artichoke spread, keeping warm until serving.
9. Check your eggs – are they nearly done ?
10. After your sandwich has finished toasting, remove from the heat and apply a liberal amount of spinach and artichoke spread to the top. Finish by draping your perfectly cooked egg on top, season with salt and pepper (and some sneaky hot-sauce), and serve.
— Serves 2.This recipe is hard work, but it is well worth it. I only really ever cook it for special occasions or if one of my boys special requests it. PS.. this is bomb with hot sauce. Try it. Don’t deny it 😉