Saturday, February 14, 2009

Croque Madame

The signs were everywhere. Diana made a Croque Monsieur earlier in the week, then a couple of days later, I spotted Kevin's Croque Hawaii. It was just a matter of time before I would be making my own Croque Mr(s). I have been wanting to try the French's take on a grilled cheese for quite sometime, but lately I just haven't been in the mood for heavy foods. It could have had something to do with our insanely warm temperatures that started the year. When it is hot, the only food I want is fruit and vegetables and things that won't way me down. However, the last couple of weeks have proved that we do know how to have some form of winter here in Southern California, even though the rest of the country would probably scoff at what we think of as "cold weather". However, for me it means I am finally wanting hearty and warming foods like this sandwich and soup. If I had a Valentine, this is what I would be making him for today. It's a simple preparation that yields extra special results. It's decadent and so wonderfully satisfying, you may be too full to do anything else, but it's so worth it!

In the immortal words from Rachel Dratch in 30 Rock, season one...HAPPY VALENTIMES!

(Slightly adapted from Epicurious)

Makes 2 sandwiches

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for grilling sandwiches
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash freshly ground black pepper
Dash grated nutmeg
1/2 cup, plus 3 tablespoons shredded Gruyere, divided
4 slices sandwich bread
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 pound thinly sliced Black Forest hame
2 eggs

Make sauce:
Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a small heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, about 3 minutes. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, about 5 minutes. Whisk in salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons cheese until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and cover surface directly with a sheet of wax paper.

Make sandwiches:
Preheat the broiler.

Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce evenly over each of 2 slices of bread, then sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese (1/4 cup per slice). Spread mustard evenly on remaining 2 bread slices and top with ham, dividing it evenly, then invert onto cheese-topped bread to form sandwiches.

Lightly oil a shallow baking pan.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately low heat, then cook sandwiches, turning over once, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes total. Remove from heat and transfer sandwiches to baking pan, then wipe out skillet with paper towels.

Top each sandwich with 2 tablespoons sauce, spreading evenly. Broil sandwiches 4 to 5 inches from heat until sauce is bubbling and golden in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off broiler and transfer pan to lower third of oven to keep sandwiches warm.

Heat a bit more butter in nonstick skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then crack eggs into skillet and season with salt and pepper. Fry eggs, covered, until whites are just set and yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Top each sandwich with a fried egg and serve immediately.

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Erica said...

Very nice- HAPPY VALENTINE"S DAY Chicky!

Unknown said...

yeah, you really can't go wrong with these :)

Diana said...

Mmmm that crust of cheese looks so decadently delicious... I think I may need to make my next croque, a madame! :)

Reeni said...

I wish I had seen this earlier, this would of been fabulous for brunch or lunch today. Happy Valentimes!!!

test it comm said...

That looks good! I have not tried the Madame version yet but I really like the sound of a runny egg yolk dripping all over it!

Kana said...

This is my kinda meal! Hope you had a great weekend.

vanillasugarblog said...

I clicked on the picture and got the full blown image which was great. LOL
Nice breakfast.

Anonymous said...

ooh gruyere cheese is one of my favorite cheeses!!! this sounds awesome! happy v-day!

Dee said...

There's a missus version, too?
Look great! I'm sorry I keep treating your blog as my personal recipe stash, but do you blame me?

Happy valentine's Day, Esi :)

Esi said...

Thank you everyone! Hope you had a great Valentine's day and weekend! Luckily mine isn't over yet. Hope the same is true for you too!

Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer said...

This is one dish that you can eat anytime of the day!! Yum looks great

Anonymous said...

This looks great!

My fiancee adores grilled cheese and this would probably blow his mind...

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm Gruyere!

It's been cloudy and rainy here (cincinnati) for the last day or two, so this sandwich might come in handy.

As always, nicely done. :)

Alicia Foodycat said...

I'd have liked my valentine to make that for me! That looks so delicious.

Esi said...

Jeff, two days of rain here is followed by 8 days of 80 degrees. I know I must be the only one in LA that hates it.

Foodycat, I think it is a quite romantic meal to have with valentine :)