Croque Madame with Crispy Ham.
I am turning into a sandwich person.
And I have never been a sandwich person. But wouldn’t this turn you into a sandwich person too? For sure.
These days, I love a good sandwich. The attributes of a “good” sandwich obviously differ for everyone but for me? I need just a little bit of meat (or none at all), a lot of cheese (preferably different kinds), a bunch of texture (in whatever form that wants to appear) and not many vegetables at all. And it mustmustmust be toasted. Must.
I know this description sounds eerily like a grilled cheese buuuuut… whatever. I like what I like!
For example, I’ve never been a huge fan of deli meat – though I have to admit that it’s appeal is greatly heightened when I can add potato chips inside my actual sandwich. Have you done this? Do this. It basically consumed my Sunday afternoons as a child, back when I was sort of a sandwich person once a week.
However, on nights when my dad worked late and my mom made breakfast for dinner (best meal ever?), she would also fry some ham and it tasted perfect on a sandwich with eggs. I use the term “fry” loosely because if you just put thinly sliced ham in a hot skillet, it crisps up perfectly.
Gah. It’s so freaking delicious.
As a side note and at the risk of making a blanket statement, do men generally just not like breakfast for dinner? Because my dad wasn’t (isn’t) a fan and my husband can’t even grasp the concept. What is wrong with them?
You may know that my obsession with croque monsieurs began after seeing It’s Complicated, where Meryl Streep (hi lady crush) makes a perfect one for Steve Martin (hello man crush) and Alec Baldwin (hey creep but sexy and weird crush) ends up eating the leftovers. WHY DO I LOVE THAT MOVIE SO MUCH. It’s the only movie I’ve ever downloaded on to my computer because I felt the need to have access to it instantly, all the time. If you actually knew just how many times I have viewed said movie, it would kill you. I live for the soundtrack. I have the most embarrassing, non-secretive infatuation with that film. And uh, no, it’s not because there are cute guys my age in it. I’d much prefer to be friends with the 50-year olds in the film.
I also sort of want to own that giant bakery/cafe that Meryl has in the movie, but I have no interest in working that hard on something like that in real life. I am not a baker. So if somebody could just give me enough money that I could OPEN a store like that and own it and pay people to work in it so I would have somewhere cute to go eat everyday, that would be awesome. Yeah. That’s a great idea.
Just when I thought that a little meal (with the ultimate movie fantasy) couldn’t get any better, I had an incredible croque madame for brunch one Sunday a few months ago and nearly lost my mind. Eggs are sort of like bacon. Practically everything gets better with eggs. And now… I’m kinda ticked that I didn’t add bacon here? But that would be trashing this up waaaaay too much. A whole different meal. We can do that later.
The highlight of these sandwiches for me has always been the gruyere sauce. I mean, it’s like making sauce for mac and cheese and then… putting it on your sandwich. It’s like putting fondue… on your sandwich. It’s putting tons of gooey cheese… on your sandwich. And the crispy ham. Ugh. I’m just done. So done.
Somebody rescue me from a croque madame coma.
Croque Madame with Crispy Ham
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup milk (2% or whole is best)
1/2 cup freshly grated gruyere cheese
pinch of salt, pepper + nutmeg
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
1/2 cup freshly grated gruyere cheese
4 slices whole grain bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add ham in batches, turning with kitchen tongs and cooking until crispy on all sides. Remove and place on a plate.
Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add butter. Once sizzling, whisk in flour and cook until golden, about 1-2 minutes, to create a roux. Add milk and stir constantly until slightly thickened, then reduce heat and add in gruyere. Stir until melted, then season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Heat a large electric griddle or skillet over medium heat. Take four slices of bread, spreading a small amount of the cheese sauce on each slice, leaving a bit of sauce for topping the sandwiches at the end. Top two slices with the ham, then cover with the other slice of bread, cheese-side down. Add butter to the skillet or griddle, then cook and until both sides are golden and crispy.
While sandwiches are cooking, cook the eggs as you desire.
Preheat the broiler on your oven. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and cover the tops with the remaining cheese sauce and grated cheese. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, then top each with an egg. Enjoy!
P.S. whose ultimate movie fantasy involves Steve Martin and food? What?