I have a slight infatuation with the French version of a ham and cheese sandwich – the croque madame. And when I say slight infatuation, I mean massive. Although can you blame me, since it’s basically a gooey grilled cheese stuffed to the brim with high-quality black forest ham and nutty gruyere cheese, smothered with creamy béchamel and then topped off with a fried egg. If that’s not heaven in a sandwich, then I’m not sure what it is.
While I obviously enjoy inhaling it in the way it’s meant to be, I have become quite intrigued by transforming the classic sandwich into something a little different. So far on the blog, I’ve turned it into a chicken burger, crepes, a pop tart, a pizza, and a heart-shaped waffle breakfast perfect for two.
Today, I introduce one of my favorite adaptations yet, Croque Madame Rolls.
Instead of layering the ham and cheese between two pieces of bread, as it’s classically made, I actually hallowed out a French bread dinner roll to use as the base. The key is to get as much of the bread out as you possibly can, since there’s an obscene of delicious ingredients you need to fit in that small amount of space. I used a French roll, because, well, it’s French, but you could also use sourdough, or even a sturdy pretzel roll. Just make sure whichever one you choose is going to big enough to hold a whole egg, plus the ham and cheese.
To begin, a slice of black forest ham gets layered into the bottom of each of the rolls; I like to start with the ham because it acts as a sort of barrier between the sauce, cheese and bread, so that nothing gets super soggy. After that, cheese gets sprinkled in, and then it gets smothered with the creamiest, mustard-laced béchamel sauce.
Next, an egg gets cracked in to each roll. The leftover béchamel gets drizzled on top, and everything goes into the oven until the egg whites are cooked, and the yolks are runny. Now, I tried this approximately one million times, and the key to making sure the egg is not overcooked is two-fold. One, you HAVE to use medium-sized eggs, well you don’t have to, but it works better with medium-sized eggs. With a large egg, the whites just take too long to cook and the yolk gets hard, which for me, is no bueno. If you do have to use large eggs, just crack the egg in a ramekin first, take a little bit of the white out, and then transfer it into the roll.
Second, make sure you get the béchamel sauce evenly over the egg, this also creates a sort of barrier so that the heat of the oven on top doesn’t cook the yolk before the white is done.
Once they come out of the oven, they’re sprinkled with a little bit of parmesan cheese (optional) and chopped parsley.
- 2 Tlbs butter
- 2 Tlbs flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¾ tsp. dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 8 french rolls (or your favorite roll, nothing TOO hard though.)
- 4 thinly sliced pieces of black forest ham
- ½ cup shredded gruyere cheese
- 8 eggs
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oven rack in bottom third of oven.
- Using a pairing knife, cut a circle in the top of each rolls. Pull it out and then pull out as much bread as you can, so the roll is hollow on the inside. Set aside.
- Heat a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add butter. Once butter has melted, whisk in flour. Cook for one minute. Slowly whisk in milk, dijon and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in dijon and salt. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cut each piece of ham in half lengthwise. Line in the bottom of each rolls. Spoon two tablespoons of sauce into the bottom of the rolls. Sprinkle two tablespoons of cheese on top. Line rolls up on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- Crack eggs into each roll.
- Spoon remaining sauce evenly over eggs. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until egg is set and cooked to desired doneness.
- Garnish with flat leaf parsley.