If you’re looking for a way to spruce up breakfast, Croque Madames are the perfect ham-and-cheese combination.
"Croque Madame is a wonderful classic dish that dates back to 1910 Paris Bistros,” says Chef Eric Starkman. “Its flavors and textures have made it an enduring bistro staple dish even more than 100 years later."
As executive chef of Nice Matin, New York City's self-proclaimed "essential French brasserie and wine destination of the Upper West Side," Starkman serves delectable croque madames to smiling customers for lunch and dinner. Today, he shares his recipe so you can re-create the dining experience at home with a simple side of salad or chips.
A croque madame is essentially a ham and cheese sandwich with a few elevated additions. The croque madame is inspired by its partner, the croque monsieur, but while the croque monsieur features bechamel sauce inside the sandwich, croque madames bring the sauce out and top with a fried egg.
Chef Starkman’s iteration of the french favorite is all about his home-made bechamel. Utilizing both gruyere and parmesan, the cheesy flavor envelops the sandwich inside and out. For an added punch, add a pinch of nutmeg.
For the perfect ending, add dijon mustard to the bread and an over-easy egg. Be ready to cut through the yolk, and let it infuse the sandwich with creamy glory.
Add the heavy cream to a medium sized pot on medium heat and start to reduce, being careful not to boil over the cream.
Once the cream has been reduced by about half, begin whisking in the grated gruyere, parmesan, nutmeg (optional) and salt. Continue whisking until the sauce has become completely smooth.
Put the finished sauce to the side on very low heat to stay warm.
Assemble your sandwich using the sliced gruyere and ham, making sure to spread dijon on at least one side of the sandwich.
Melt your butter in a medium sized sauté pan. Once melted, add your sandwich and sear to golden brown on one side. Once you flip the sandwich, cut the heat and place the whole pan in the oven for 3-5 minutes to heat the sandwich throughout while finishing the other side.
Remove your sandwich from the oven and place onto a plate.
Cover the sandwich with your finished sauce.
In a small non-stick pan cook your egg to your preferred style. Chef Starkman recommends it over easy.
Place your egg on top of the sauce-covered sandwich and enjoy.
Nice Matin is open for take-out and delivery, as well as outdoor and indoor dining. Follow Chef Starkman on Instagram for more.