Croque Madame

Oh, 'ello, weeders, I em steel en Frahnce, oui! Ooh la la! Are you, 'ow you say, jealous? Well, do not be. Eef you weesh you could also go to Frahnce, I say go. Eet ees very possible. Okay, enough of that dumb accent. Anyway, I shared some tips on how to travel affordably over on my travel blog, if you need some help.

To get you all in the French-y spirit with me, I'm sharing a croque madame today. If you're unfamiliar, a croque monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Chuck an egg on top and it's a croque madame! Trust me, it's egg-cellent, egg-straordinary, egg-stravagant!

By the way, I really need to apologize in advance about the little shmutz that was on my lens when I took the photos below. It wasn't apparent to me at all while I was taking the photos and I only realized it after I uploaded them to my computer to start editing. I'm not positive when it happened but I cooked multiple things on this particular day (and planted my garden), and I think all of the photos are somewhat tainted. My bad!
2 slices of bread (I used a crusty sourdough loaf)
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon flour
½ cup milk
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch nutmeg
pinch black pepper
¼ teaspoon dijon mustard
¼ cup + ¼ cup grated gruyere cheese
2 slices ham
1 large egg
+ butter

Start by making the mornay sauce (a cheese sauce), which is a bechamel (cream sauce) with cheese mixed in. So, start by throwing butter and garlic in a saucepan. Once the butter melts and the garlic is sizzling, add a little flour and whisk vigorously until a lovely, smooth roux forms. Then, add in a little dijon mustard and whisk that in. Finally, pour in a bit of milk, whisking to get rid of lumps, and bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until it's nice and thick.
Once the sauce is lovely and thick, add in a little black pepper and nutmeg for a boost of flavor. Then, dump in the cheese and whisk until it's all melted and smooth and then set the sauce aside. The nutmeg will add a bit of some'n some'n to the sauce. Rachael Ray always says it's the thing that makes people go, "Mmm, what is that?" but that's not a helpful description, Rach. I would say it adds a bit of warmth and just a hint of spice that pairs well with dairy. It's slightly sweet, kind of nutty (duh), and it's kind of earthy.
To assemble the sandwiches, grab two thick slices of bread - you can control the thickness if you slice it up yourself - and butter each piece, but only on one side. Then, place the bread in your griddle pan or cast iron skillet, butter-side up. Let the bread toast gently on the unbuttered side for a minute or two and then flip. Spread a little of the mornay sauce on each slice of bread.
On top of the cheese sauce, add just a bit more cheese (yes! More cheese!) and then lay on a few slices of ham. I used prosciutto but any deli ham is fine. Then, close up the sandwich and let it toast a bit so that the cheese melts and fuses the sandwich together.
Then, what I like to do, is chuck the toasted sammie onto a foil-lined sheetpan, sprinkle a bit more cheese on top, and throw it in a hot broiler for a minute until the cheese melts and the edges get toasty.
But wait! There's more! Fry up an egg, either sunnyside up or over easy, your preference, and slap it on top of your cheesy toasted sandwich.
Doesn't that look great? Last step is to tuck in and enjoy.
The first bite's okay, but the second bite, the one where you break into that yellow oozy yolk, that one is killer. There's a good bit of salt from the ham and the cheese, the slightest bit of tang from the dijon, there's a great textural variation between the crisped up bread, the chewy ham, and the tender egg. It's just a great dish. These would make a great brunch dish too; impress the hell out of your guests.
Here's the recipe page: