...my take on a French classic. The croque-madame is one of many variants of the traditional croque-monsieur, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich (typically with a béchamel on top).
Now, my version isn’t exactly grilled...or a sandwich...I suppose if I was going to get cheffy about it I would call it a deconstructed croque-madame as I have taken the elements and put them together my way. Whatever you want to call it, it is also the most decadent and indulgent breakfast going!
The first thing to do it get a béchamel going. For this dish I keep it really simple. Large knob of butter and a tablespoon of flour to make a roux and while stirring slowly add milk until you get a thick but pourable sauce. Pinch of black pepper and the sauce is done. Keep it on a very low heat to keep it warm and give it an occasional stir while making the rest of the dish. Do keep an eye on the sauce though as you may well need to add a dash more milk at some point to save it thickening up too much (which is what happened to me with this one).
Next up is the toast. Take a couple of slices of thick white bread (possibly the only time I will recommend using a sliced white), cut the crusts off and butter it liberally on both sides. Get a hot frying pan and fry off the bread on both slides. It needs to be hot to get the bread nice and crispy. Remember “croque” comes from “croquer” - “to crunch” so it needs to be crispy!
Put the toast on a oven proof plate, put some sliced ham on top of the toast along with a little bit of grated cheese and then put this in the oven at 100C to keep it hot and start melting the cheese.
Back to the frying pan. Add a little vegetable oil and then fry a couple of eggs. If you like your yolks runny (and, frankly, is there any other way) fry them until they are just cooked.
Quickly get the plate out of the oven (turn the oven up to 200C at this point) and put the eggs on top of the cheese and ham. Then pour the béchamel over the top and put back in the oven for 5 minutes.
Out of the oven and serve. Pure indulgence on a breakfast plate.