The Croque Madame

The Croque Madame

I love how food can trigger memories. This sandwich, for example, always reminds me of my sister and our summers in the south of France.

One year, while I was still being dragged everywhere by my parents, my sister got a job in a small sandwich shop by the promenade des Anglais. Whenever we were by the sea, we would pay her a visit and, on good days, I would be allowed a treat. Her stall had all a luncheonette needs , from the classics jambon beurre, rosette et cornichon and cheesy croissants, to sweet pastries and chocolate bars. But my eye was always on the warm and toasty croque-monsieur, with its smooth melted cheese. Oh, how I remember the constant begging I did for this sandwich, good day or not, no matter the time of our visit.

Ingredients for Croque Madame
But by ignoring my 12-year-old-self’s desperate plea, my parents didn’t realise they were elevating this humble toastie to the ultimate sandwich. The unattainable one.

See, a croque-monsieur is a pretty simple sandwich, really – just some bread, ham and cheese with a creamy sauce binding it all together. But, it’s one of those meals that never seems as good when made at home.

Until now!

Ingredients for Croque Madame
If you search for croque-monsieur online, you’ll realise that 98% of the recipes are made with a b├ęchamel sauce. I’ve never, however, been convinced that this was the authentic recipe.

Only when I tried Ducasse’s recipe did I feel like I was taking a bite of the old French classic. Using cream and egg yolk instead of a b├ęchamel sauce adds creaminess without being too heavy, and the bread and ham aren’t drowned the by cheese and sauce.

This was my lucky day! Finally, I could recreate my childhood memory. And I’m sharing the love with you all.
Ducasse’s trick makes the recipe so simple, especially when adapted to cooking for one. What might look like a shortcut to some, is in fact the secret power behind this great toastie.

Croque Madame
Ok, ok, I hear you say: Why all this talk about croque-monsieur, when the recipe I’m sharing is a croque-madame. Well, you see, it’s quite straightforward. By topping your lunch with an egg, your sandwich becomes a lady. Say hello to Mrs croque-madame!

I like to do this whenever I want to make a meal out of my sandwich, it makes it a bit more filling. Served with sour cornichon and a crunchy salad, like lamb’s lettuce, you get a balanced and satisfying meal in a few minutes. Delicious!

And so, this is why, whenever I see or eat a croque-monsieur, I always think of my elder sister and that sandwich shop by the Mediterranean sea.

Here’s the recipe:

Serves 1
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 80g Gruyere, grated
  2. 100g Wafer thin Ham
  3. 2 Slice of Bread (I like to use poilane bread)
  4. Butter
!For the cheese sauce
  1. 2 tbsp Creme Fraiche
  2. 30g Gruyere, grated
  3. 10g Parmesan, grated
  4. 1 Egg Yolk
  5. Pepper
  1. Turn the oven on to 180C.
  2. Grate the cheeses and keep aside.
  3. Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and keep aside.
  4. Butter one slice of bread and top with half the ham, followed by half the cheese. Repeat with the remaining meat and cheese.
  5. Butter the second slice and spread half the cheese sauce. Put the slice on top of the ham and cheese, cheese sauce face down, and press slightly.
  6. Slather the top of the sandwich with the rest of the cheese sauce and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbling.
  1. - I have done this recipe with sour cream instead of creme fraiche and I was just as nice.
  2. - And using Cheddar instead of Gruyere is just as lovely!
Adapted from Alain Ducasse
Adapted from Alain Ducasse
Singly Scrumptious

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