When we lived in Paris often times Hubby and I headed out for day long exploratory walks of our Parisian surroundings. Those long walks of never ending boulevards always left us hungry, a lunch break was a must. Unless it was raining, we’d sit at typical Parisian sidewalk cafes. Many of the sidewalk cafes have small round tables, tightly packed in, and all facing towards the hustle and bustle of the street. If we were lucky the sun would shine on us as we ate our lunch.
One of my absolute favorite lunches from a Parisian cafe is Croque Madame, occasionally Croque Monsieur. Alongside my Croque Madame lunch I always had a cup of cafe creme, and sometimes a glass of red. What could be more perfect, sitting in a cafe enjoying a typical snack all while enjoying the famous Parisian cafe life? Not much.
Croque Madame is a French grilled sandwich made with toast, ham, cheese and a poached or fried egg on top. A variation of Croque Madame is Croque Monsieur, which is the same as previously mentioned but minus the egg. Traditionally the sandwich is made using Gruyere or Emmental cheese and ham, though many other variations also exist. These quick sandwiches first appeared on Parisian menus in 1910 yet nobody seems to know why and how they got the name. Nowadays Croque Madame, Croque Monsieur and their variations can be found across France in cafes and bars.
Since moving to Prague when the craving for a Croque Madame strikes it is up to us to make our own croque. But instead of it being lunch we like to have croque for dinner. They are perfect for busy nights or when you want a lighter dinner. I usually don’t stick to the traditional cheeses or pain de mie that is so common with croques. Depending on the type of bread and cheese in the kitchen my Croque Madame take on different looks. This one I made using Gouda and a country flax seed bread. Improvise and adjust to your taste.
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Croque Madame or French Ham, Cheese and Egg Sandwich
country bread, or your favorite bread
cheese, I’m using Gouda- traditionally Gruyere or Emmental are used
Heat a grill or large pan. Slice the bread as desired. Melt some butter into hot pan, place the bread in pan add cheese slice(s) and ham then place a bread slice on top. Cook until bottom side begins to toast then flip and toast the other side. Cook until cheese melts. Set aside. (Essentially you make a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.)
Add a little more butter to the pan and fry egg sunny side up. Serve the fried egg on top of grilled sandwich. If desired serve with a small green side salad.
The sunny side up egg, or poached, is a must. The runny, buttery yolk flows down the sandwich and gives you an extra burst of flavor. If you use a hard egg you’ll really miss out on the full Croque Madame experience. Now doesn’t that just look like a delicious mess?