Monday, January 3, 2011
Croque Monsieur/Madame (Ham and Cheese Sandwich)
Croque Monsieur is basically a fancy ham and cheese sandwich. Croque Madame is a similar sandwich with an egg on top.
8 slices white or whole-wheat sourdough bread
8 ounces Gruyère cheese, sliced into 24-32 1/16-inch-thick slices
12 ounces smoked ham, such as Black Forest, sliced into 12-16 1/16-inch-thick slices
4 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Fleur de sel or kosher salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
To assemble the sandwiches:
Set half of the slices of bread buttered side down, and cover them with the cheese slices, folding them back in toward the middle if they extend past the edges of the bread. Place 3 or 4 slices of the ham in an even layer over the cheese, and place the top slice of bread over the ham, buttered side up.
Grill the sandwiches in a two-sided grill or on a heavy-bottomed pan, using clarified butter and turning once. Place on serving plates.
To fry the eggs:
Crack two eggs into two separate bowls to check that the yolks aren’t broken. In 2 6-inch non-stick skillets, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat, until it starts to bubble. Pour 1 egg into each pan, being careful not to break the yolks. Add a teaspoon of water to each pan, sprinkle the eggs with fleur de sel, and cover the pans with lids. Cook the eggs for about 3 minutes for a soft-cooked egg and 5-6 minutes if you like your eggs firm. Wipe out the skillets, and fry the other 2 eggs in the remaining butter in the same manner. Center a fried egg over each of the grilled sandwiches and sprinkle with pepper.
Now when I saw Paula Deen make her Croque Madame Casserole, my mouth watered. I can do that! I have a leftover honey ham in the fridge and think it is destined to be sandwiched between layers of Gruyere cheese and béchamel white sauce.
Croque Madame Casserole by Paula Deen
6 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, plus 2 tablespoons for eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
10 to 12 slices white bread
3/4 pound deli ham
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated Gruyere, reserve some for top of casserole
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over low heat until bubbling. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thick and bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes more. Whisk in the mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Pour a thin layer of the sauce into the prepared baking dish and cover it with 5 or 6 slices of the bread, then slices of the ham and an even layer of the Gruyere. Repeat the layers once more, ending with a third layer of sauce to cover all. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes. Remove it from the oven and cut into 6 equal pieces.
Working in 2 batches, melt 1tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crack 3 eggs into the skillet and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the whites are nearly set, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the eggs and continue cooking until the whites are completely set, about 1 minute more. You're going to top each portion of the casserole with a fried egg. Repeat with the remaining 3 eggs and 1 tablespoon butter. Top with Gruyere and it in the oven for a few minutes until cheese melts.
I hated that we were out of eggs, so technically I'm striking out on my own and making a Croque Monsieur Casserole based on Paula Deen's recipe in conjunction with Ina Garten's Croque Monsieur recipe. The bechamel sauce is key in my opinion to her Croque Monsieur recipe as is the Gruyere cheese. The cheese is melted between two pieces of bread with ham, and then the sauce is poured over the top of the sandwich, sprinkled with more cheese and broiled until the cheese is bubbly and brown. Ina's recipe produces a wonderful french fork and knife sandwich and would be divine served for brunch.
My ingredient list:
1 C milk
1/2 C parmesan cheese, shredded
6 slices sourdough bread
8 ounces Gruyere, grated
2 T dijon mustard
3 slices honey baked ham
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper