Monday, January 3, 2011

Croque Monsieur/Madame (Ham and Cheese Sandwich)

I was watching the movie "It's Complicated" the other day, and I laughed out loud at the scene where Alec Baldwin comes into his ex-wife's kitchen, played by Meryl Streep and devours her leftover Croque Monsieur. In the movie, her character says it was the first thing she learned how to cook when she lived in France because the ingredients were so cheap.

Croque Monsieur is basically a fancy ham and cheese sandwich. Croque Madame is a similar sandwich with an egg on top.

Basic Croque Madame from Epicurious
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
6 eggs

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
pinch cayenne

Because I was cooking for Jim and I, six slices of sourdough was plenty. I used my small glass baking dish and these slender slices fit perfectly for three sandwiches. The ham slices are from a leftover Christmas dinner - I just LOVE repurposing leftovers.

We are going to make a béchamel sauce so I heated a cup of milk in the microwave until hot.

I'm going to add 1/2 c of greyer and 1/2 c of parmesan to the béchamel f sauce, so I went ahead and grated it before I began.  The sauce comes together quickly, so you want to have everything you need right in front of you before you begin.

I put the six slices of sourdough on a baking pan and into a 400 degree oven for five minutes, then flipped and toasted for another three minutes.

Meanwhile, let's make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, then throw in the all purpose flour and stir to combine. Continue stirring until the flour begins to cook slightly.

Next, add the hot milk a little at a time, stirring after each addition to incorporate well.

Once the milk is all incorporated, begin adding the 1/2 c parm and the 1/2 c greyer. I found a whisk worked better for mixing during this step.

Next, I added a T of dijon mustard.

1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper.

For "kicks" I added a pinch of cayenne pepper.

To build the Monsieur, I put a little bit of my white sauce in the bottom of my baking dish.

After the sourdough was toasted, I slathered three slices with the remaining dijon mustard.

Start the bottom layer with the bread that has the mustard on it, top with a slice of ham.

Top with grated greyer cheese.

Top with the other slice of toast.

Slather with the white sauce.

Top with remaining greyer cheese.

Into the 400 degree oven for five minutes and then turn on the broiler for another 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned.
Serve hot with a fork and knife! Yummy French comfort food!


  1. We LOVE that film, and this recipe has been on my list, very nearly at the top, ever since we first saw it New Year's Eve, 2009!

    However, in the film, it appears that Janie serves up what appears to be just one slice of bread, toasted with a little something on top (melted cheese, I assumed)... Therefore, I was surprised when I researched the recipe and found that it's actually a ham sandwich. Hum...

    Any way, yours looks amazing and I thank you for posting about it!

  2. Janet, I thought the EXACT thing when I was doing online research for Croque Monsieur. The bechamel sauce is to die for, and I'm sure it is great on a piece of toast alone! Happy New Year!!!

  3. That was such a GREAT movie!!!!!!!! Yummy sandwich

  4. Thank you for posting the pics with directions! :D Super easy to follow- I've just started experimenting with new recipes outside of the basic 'easy to cook and easy to please' for my picky kiddos :) I'm giving this a try today!


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