Croque madame is a French toasted sandwich with ham, cheese, béchamel sauce and egg. The egg that is part of the sandwich can be fried or poached. In fact, the basis of croque madame is croque monsieur: the ingredients and the preparation are the same, the only difference between the two sandwiches is the egg. The egg on the sandwich is said to resemble a women’s hat, hence the very name of the sandwich. Croque madame sandwich is a popular dish of many bistros, and is served both for breakfast and lunch.
I start preparing croque madame by buying bread. Personally, I think that wheat bread works best in this sandwich. You can use your favourite bread, including toast bread, and even brown bread. A good croque madame should be crispy on the outside and soft, delicate on the inside, which is why bread is very important here. Once I have bought my bread, I focus on ham and cheese. The ham should be of good quality, smoked, cut into thick slices that can be felt while eating the sandwiches. In turn, the cheese that should be used when making this sandwich is Gruyère or Swiss cheese, or both. Gruyère has an intense, sweet and nutty flavour and melts very well, which makes it perfect for this sandwich.
Another very important element of the croque madame sandwich is, of course, the eggs. I choose free range eggs, which I usually buy in the market. Once I have bought all the basic ingredients for my sandwich, I start making homemade béchamel sauce. The basis of the béchamel sauce is milk, flour and butter. I fry the butter and flour together for a few minutes, then slowly add the milk. Finally, I season the sauce with salt and a little nutmeg.
I start assembling the sandwich with the bread, on which I spread the sauce, sprinkle with cheese, cover with ham and toast it first on a frying pan, then in the oven. I serve a crispy, toasted sandwich with a fried egg.
Ingredients for Croque Madame.
- 4 slices of bread
- 2 thick slices oh ham
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 8 tablespoons of bechamel sauce
- 6 tablespoons of grated Gruyère cheese
- 2 eggs
- oil for frying
- a pinch of salt
- a pinch of black pepper
How to make Croque Madame.
Prepare homemade béchamel sauce according to the recipe HERE. Put the béchamel sauce in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of Gruyère cheese and warm it up. The cheese should melt completely.
Brush each side of every slice of bread thoroughly with one tablespoon of butter. Place the buttered slice of bread on the kitchen counter, cover it with two tablespoons of béchamel sauce, sprinkle with a tablespoon of cheese, on which place a thick slice of ham. Brush the ham with a spoonful of béchamel sauce and cover with a second slice of bread.
Put a frying pan on the heat and warm it up. Once the pan is hot, put on 1/2 tablespoon of butter, reduce the heat to medium and arrange the sandwiches on it. Fry the sandwiches for 2-3 minutes on both sides. When turning the sandwiches over, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Next, place the toasted sandwiches in a baking dish, spread with the remaining béchamel sauce on their top and sprinkle them with the remaining cheese. Transfer the sandwiches into an oven preheated to 180 degrees Celsius for 5-6 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the fried egg. Pour a small amount of oil into a frying pan and heat it up. When the oil in the pan becomes hot, add the eggs, sprinkle them with a pinch of salt and pepper. Fry the eggs over a medium-high heat until the egg white gets completely set and the yolk gets liquid.
Remove the baked croque madame sandwiches out of the oven and place them on the serving plate. Place the fried egg on top of each sandwich. Serve right away.
Good to know when making Croque Madame.
I baked the sandwiches on a pan, over a medium heat, with a tendency to small. When baking the sandwiches, be careful not to overcook the bread. The effect that you want to achieve is lightly toasted, crispy bread.
I always put my sandwiches in the oven, but you can prepare solely on a pan. In that case, after toasting the sandwiches, I would suggest reducing the heat to low, placing a lid on the pan and baking them until the cheese in the middle of the sandwiches melts and has a chewy texture.
You can slightly modify this croque madame recipe by replacing the Gruyère with Ementaler or Gouda. You can also change the amount of the sauce and the cheese. Personally, I like it when there is a lot from both in the sandwich.
You can acquire two sandwiches from the given amounts of ingredients.
Do you like French sandwiches? If so, try our recipe for Croque Monsieur.