The exact translation of Croque Madam has been lost to antiquity. Historians and linguistics professors have dug through ancient texts, and the best they’ve able to cobble together, the closest translation, is “grilled cheese.”
Croque madam. You might be asking yourself if there’s a croque monsieur (same sandwich, no egg). And the answer is yes. There is. Unfortunately he couldn’t be here tonight. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, he’s self-quarantining with Croque Mistress. I hope that once everything gets back to normal that they can work everything out because here’s some new news: they’ve got a little Croque Mademoiselle on the way.
If you want to try a lighter version of this, try it without the top slice of bread. I like to call this preparation a Topless Croque Madam.
(Inspired by Thomas Keller’s Bouchon)
Roux plus milk equals béchamel. Béchamel plus cheese equals mornay. Mornay plus grilled cheese equals croque madam, which is amazing. This amount of mornay makes enough for at six sandwiches.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and gently sweat for 3-5 minutes until it becomes translucent. Add the flour and cook for another 3-5 minutes to cook off the flour taste. Stir constantly so it doesn’t brown. Add the milk and cream, bring to a very gentle simmer, and reduce by one third, about 20 minutes. Stir in the cheese, lime juice, and cayenne and reserve refrigerated, for up to a week.
Heat the oven to 350˚F. Heat 45 g (3 tablespoons) of the butter in a pan large enough to hold four slices of bread over medium heat. Add the bread slices, top two of them with the cheese and ham, and cook until the bottoms are browned, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the oven and cook until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
Melt the remaining butter in a small sauté pan set over medium. Crack the eggs into the pan and fry until just set, about 5 minutes.
Form a sandwich with the bread slices and transfer to a serving plate. Top each sandwich with an egg. Pour an ungodly amount of mornay sauce top.