The Art of the Egg

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Croque Madame

Don’t make these if you’re not really hungry.  It usually takes me an hour to finish one.  I need some coffee and some wine in between.

It’s really pretty simple.  I don’t bother making a bechamel (a white sauce with butter, flour and milk); to me it tastes a little “floury”. Let’s make our cream sauce.  I’ve been urging you to try this since my last book.  It’s awesome!  Heavy cream, salt, a skillet.  Cream will boil over in a deep pot, hence the skillet.  Plus, there is more contact surface, so you’re done in a third of the time.

As you cook the cream, it will thicken into a sauce.  The milk solids will begin to darken it to a butter color.  The salt will bring out the flavor more.  Stay with it, don’t go away.  When it is a sauce, turn it off and add some parmesan.  Stir it into a nice, creamy mixture.

Lay out your bread slices and top with several slices of ham.  Spread some of the cream sauce on the ham, then top with a couple of slices of Swiss cheese.  Put the second slice of bread on top.  Put the rest of the sauce on top.  This is what it should look like when you place it in the oven.

When the sandwich cooks, the bread underneath will toast and the Swiss cheese will melt inside.  Most importantly, the creamy, cheesy creation you have made will bubble and brown on top.  This is a hearty 22 seed and grain bread that I happen to like, and it has so much texture, I didn’t do the browning step.  If you are using a softer white bread of some kind, (don’t use one that will be crushed under the weight of the cheese) you will want to brown the sandwich on both sides in a buttered skillet before you do the last pour of sauce on top.

While the sandwich is cooking in the oven (350 about 15 minutes, but check for browning, bubbling tops)…fry your eggs.

After you pull out your beautifully melted sandwiches, put them on the prettiest plates you own, top with the fried egg and serve immediately.  Micro greens or sliced scallions will finish it off.  Pour some wine!






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