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French Recipes: Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame

Two toasted sandwiches with ham and cheese inside and one with a fried egg on topA Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame are almost identical. The Croque Madame however, has one extra ingredient and that’s a fried egg on the top, like a hat on a lady.
For a fancy ham and cheese toastie, there is quite a debate on how to prepare this online, just look at the comments after Felicity Cloake’s article on the topic!
After a bit of research, it seems that if this is made at home the bechamel sauce is omitted and if purchased in a restaurant (particularly in Paris) the bechamel sauce is included.
I have decided to omit the sauce in my preparation, although the recipe is still included below. I find Croque Monsieur quite rich already without the sauce and I have had a few Croque Monsieur in Paris with the sauce and I must admit, it was far too rich for me! I’d love to hear your opinion, so please let me know in the comments below!

Makes one Croque Monsieur and one Croque Madame

Ingredients

  • 4 slices good quality white bread, with crusts removed (optional)
  • 50 gr Emmental cheese (or you can use Gruyère), grated
  • 2 slices good quality ham
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg
  • butter

BECHEMAL SAUCE

  • 40 gr butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 100 ml milk
  • 30 gr grated cheese (same type as above)
  • grated nutmeg

METHOD

Spread a good amount of butter on one side of each slice of bread. Spread the dijon mustard on the other side. On a frying pan over a relatively low heat place two slices of bread, butter side down. Top with the cheese and then the ham and then the other slice of bread, butter side out.
Slowly fry these on both sides until lightly golden brown.
While the bread is toasting and the cheese is melting, you can make the bechamel sauce, if you wish to include. In a small pan, melt the
butter and then stir in the flour to make a paste. Allow this to cook for one minute. With a whisk, very gently whisk in the milk, a little at a time, and simmer until thickened but still smooth. Take off the heat and stir in the cheese and some grated nutmeg. Season if required.
In the frying pan, add some oil and fry one egg for about one minute until the white has set.
Top one of the toasts with the fried egg. Top both with some extra cheese and the bechamel sauce and grill for a few minutes until bubbling.
If you aren’t adding the sauce, then there is no need to grill.  Enjoy your Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame with or without bechamel sauce!

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