If you want to feel like you have been transported to a quaint bistro tucked away somewhere in France, look no further than this recipe for Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame. For me, this classic French sandwich is so much more than a sandwich... it’s a masterpiece. A work of art. Something truly amazing to behold.
A Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame are simply ham and cheese sandwiches that are taken to the next level. Both these sandwiches are made of simple, everyday ingredients but they are combined and assembled in a way that makes the sandwiches look so elegant and taste so rich. That must be because of all the butter...
Now if you are wondering what the difference between a Croque Monsieur and a Croque Madame is, it’s simply the addition of a fried egg. If you make this sandwich on it’s own (no fried egg involved), it is called a Croque Monsieur. Top this sandwich with a fried egg and voilà- you have a Croque Madame. I really do prefer the Croque Madame over the traditional Croque Monsieur because of the delicious egg- it really makes a fantastic breakfast and brunch meal. But let’s be honest, I’ll eat either of these delicious sandwiches and you probably would too 😛
As I mentioned above, this elegant looking sandwich is made with simple ingredients, but they are assembled and prepared in such a special way that it puts a regular old ham and cheese sandwich sandwich to shame. You essentially assemble this sandwich like you would a ham and cheese sandwich, cook it like a grilled cheese sandwich, add a few extra touches after frying (béchamel sauce and more cheese) and finish it off in the oven. It may sound like a lot of work, but trust me- it’s not and it’s worth it.
If you have never heard of béchamel sauce before, it is simply a thick, milk-based sauce made from a combination of butter, flour and milk. Again, simple, every day ingredients! I add in some salt, pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg (très Français!) to the bechamel sauce and add it to the inside and top of the sandwich. This sauce is a quintessential part of what makes this sandwich extra special (and French) as it really adds a creamy richness to this dish that works incredibly well with the salty ham and the nutty taste of the cheese.
Another essential part of this recipe for Croque Monsieur or a Croque Madame is the cheese. While gruyère cheese is the traditional cheese to use for a Croque Monsieur or a Croque Madame, this recipe also works well with a nice Jarlsberg or Emmental cheese as well. All three of these cheeses have a nutty, buttery, earthy flavour to them which is a great complement to the salty ham. The cheese is added to the inside of the sandwich as well as on top, which is what makes the sandwich really special. And just when you think that you have added enough cheese, just go ahead and add more. It is so delicious when it is broiled in the oven and gets all melted and golden brown. I mean just look at it…cheese heaven! All this cheese definitely warrants the use of a knife and fork.
So, which of these two sandwiches are you inclined to try? Croque Monsieur? Croque Madame? Both? Let me know in the comments below! Bon appétit tout le monde!
For the full recipes for Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame, click here!