Croque Madame

(You can download the recipe here (.docx))

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 5 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 tsp. nutmeg

For the sandwich:

  • 8 slices country-style bread
  • 6 oz. sliced ham, preferably French
  • 3 oz. Gruyere (or Emmental)
  • Dijon mustard (optional)

To make the sauce:

Melt butter in skillet; stir in flour and cook, stirring, until flour begins to turn golden. Gradually whisk in milk (you may want more or less). Sauce will thicken. Cook, stirring frequently, for five minutes or more. Taste to be sure flour is no longer gritty.
To make the sandwich:
Toast bread lightly.

Coat one side of four slices with béchamel sauce, being sure to spread it to the edges. Layer ham and cheese. Coat one side of remaining pieces of bread with sauce (or you may choose to use good Dijon mustard). Put sandwiches together and spread tops with more béchamel. Top with a bit of grated cheese.

Bake in moderate oven (350F) until cheese melts. Change oven setting to broil to finish the sandwiches, watching carefully that they don’t burn.

You have just made Croque Monsieur. Irene likes to turn it into Croque Madame by topping each sandwich with a sunny-side-up fried egg.