Croque Madam

I am trying to vindicate the Croque Madame, who has been so brutally mistreated in so many kitchens lately that her true identity has been all but forgotten. During the past couple of years i have ordered a croque monsieur (without fried egg)  or croque madam (with fried egg) on several occasions late at night, usually in a hotel lobby or nightclub. What I have been served on every occasion has been less than stellar, to say the least. Typically what is being served nowadays is a grilled cheese sandwich wich has been stuffed with a few thin slices of ham and american sliced cheddar, topped with more sliced cheddar and then finished under the broiler. This is no doubt a fine ham and cheese sandwich but that’s where the similarities with a croque mensieur or croque madame end.

Both croques in it’s original form should be prepared in the following way: Toast slices of rustic bread, top with bechamel to which a fine mustard has been added. Top first slice with cooked ham and lot’s of shredded Gruyere Cheese, top with a second slice of bread, cover with mustard-bechamel and plenty more shredded gruyere. Sprinkle with herbs de province or other herbs of your choice. Bake at 425 F until the bechamel/cheese bubbles. There you have it – Croque Monsieur ! Top with fried egg for Croque Madame !

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