A Croque Madame…

August 31, 2010

Croque Madame - Courtney-style

Generally, I’m hungry around 10 am. This is because I’m not ready for food before that time, only coffee. By 10:30 am, I am susceptible to craving immensely whatever food is put in front of me. So this morning, when I read that the place my old college roomie works for was being featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, I was in prime-craving mode. I haven’t been in Kansas City in nearly 6 years, so I decided to pop over to the Happy Gillis website and see what they had to offer. Just in case I’m ever in the area again, ya know?

Croque Madame caught my eye — ham, swiss, and grainy mustard, with runny egg to boot! Some may find this odd, but despite my love for runny egg, I’ve never had a croque madame. I didn’t even know how to make one. But, alas, I have no ham.

Or so I thought! I went to rummage through my refrigerator, because at this point I wanted something. We had some friends visiting this weekend, and they had come bearing not only gifts, but their road trip leftovers, which included – HAM! Hot diggity, I am back in bidness!

A quick search returns a few versions of croque madame. A version from Epicurious that includes a convoluted white sauce, a version from Paula Deen that has no mustard in sight, but includes mayo, and a version from Rachael Ray that called for her trademark nutmeg and had some green stuff sprinkled on top. Normally, I probably would have went with the Epicurious recipe, but I was making a quick lunch, and I wanted that grainy mustard Happy Gillis talked about. So here we go.

Making Croque Madame

Said friends came bearing gifts from Rogue Creamery in Oregon, one of which was a Rosemary Cheddar. I started with some wheat bread, spread a bit of dijon and stone-ground mustard on one side, topped with some crumbled rosemary cheddar, found ham, and another slice of bread. I melted a pat of butter in a small skillet (and turned on my broiler), and flopped the sandwich in ham-side down. While cooking, I buttered the other side of my bread, then flipped, once the bottom was browned. I topped the browned side with an additional swipe of stone ground mustard and more crumbled cheddar, as you can see in the picture, and once both sides were brown, popped it under the broiler to melt the cheese. I think this might be a world record for the number of times “brown” or a variation have been used in a paragraph. Both sides were toasted, brown, get it?

This is where the story gets fun. Despite the fact that every recipe tells you to cook the egg separately, I thought, “Why do that? Let’s just plop and egg on top and finish it off on bake in the oven. That’s much quicker!” Well, I’ll tell you why you don’t do that. Your egg will run right off the top of that bread and slide into a corner. Which mine did. I stared at it for a minute, thought what the hell, and popped it in the oven anyway (switch from broil to bake if you’re following my half-baked methods, otherwise, remove your sandwich, add a little butter, and cook a sunnyside up egg on the stove, using a potholder with the now hot handle).

Once my white was set, I pulled it out, plated the sandwich with some greens dressed with vinaigrette, and scraped the rest of my egg up and placed it on top of the sandwich. The yolk didn’t stay in tact, but it came out okay looks-wise. Taste-wise – OMG! I can’t believe I haven’t had this before! This will be a new basic to pull into rotation.

After lunch, I sat there, nearly satisfied, marveling over the fact that I didn’t ruin my egg yolk. What could top this perfect meal? Maybe a lavender fleur de sel chocolate? Oh yes, I think so!

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3 Responses to “A Croque Madame…”

  1. A blog post inspired by more than one facebook friend.

  2. Ah, and check out Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives tonight to see Happy Gillis of KCMO featured at 10/9 Central (That’s 10 specific time… 9 if you’re not punctual?), which was a source of inspiration for making this sandwich.

  3. Said friend also loves runny eggs, Croque Madame, and said lavendar carmels but is especially fond of your food blog–omg a fellow food geek!