As you know we are in France these days, and I am always looking for new ways of working the classics, it doesnt always have to be rich dishes but it does need to taste good and be worth the effort, even if that is 5 minuets or 2 hours.
I decided that I wanted to have a play around with the classic Croque Madame, (Cheese and ham toastie with a fried egg on top), well we are in France of course so why not use another classic the Baguette.
This is a wonderful brunch/lunch dish, to enjoy either on your own or with friends. I created this dish on a Sunday morning as it is ideal for that brunch dish, not quite breakfast not quite lunch.
I started off with gathering all the ingredients together, this is one of those dishes that is ready to eat as soon as the egg is cooked.
You will need to make a bechamel sauce, start by putting the milk into a small pot and place on the heat, add the copped onion and bay leaf, bring this to boiling point, but you don’t need to have it boiling, then turn off and allow the flavours to infuse.
Then next start making your roux, with equal quantities of butter and flour, place the butter into a medium pot and place on a heat and allow the butter to melt completely and when it starts to boil, tip all the flour in (all in one go) and start mixing, bringing it all together, it should look crumbly, but don’t worry this is how it should look. Cook it over a low heat for about 2 minutes. (this cooks out the flour and that flour taste)
Strain the milk, (discard the onion and bay leaf) then using a whisk, slowly adding the milk in a slow steam into the butter/flour mix and keep mixing until you have thick smooth sauce
I prefer to have a batard (careful with the spelling here), it is a lunchtime bread, basically it is a thick baguette, nearer a ‘Pain’ loaf and cut it into thick slices about 5/6 cms each.
Take the center (soft) bread out of each slice and place on a board.
I use thin slices of smoked ham (Jambon cru) as we dont have access to nice slices of bacon here in France, but this is the next best thing.
Use the ham/bacon to line the inside of your bread slice, tucking the ham all the way around and trying to ensure you dont have any spaces in your ham as this will be used to hold your egg.
Put a frying pan onto the heat and add a bit of butter, when then butter has melted place each of your slices into the frying pan and cook for a couple of minutes so your bread is getting a bit of colour.
Then carefully crack your egg into each slice.
Again leave for 1 minute then fold the edges of your ham over your egg and carefully flip over to brown on the other side, adding a little more butter just so that the bread will brown.
Top each slice with a spoonful of your bechamel sauce and then top with some grated cheese.
Place your flying pan under the grill to melt your cheese, when then cheese is all nice and bubbly, place the slices on your place and tuck in.
You can not fail to enjoy this wonderful brunch dish. If of course your guests don’t like a soft yolk egg, then just cook it a little longer in the frying pan and it will be perfect for everyone.
Serves 2 people
- 1 thick baguette
- 4 eggs
- 4-6 slices of bacon/ham
- 100g grated cheese
- 25 g butter
- 25g flour
- 280 ml milk
- 1 small onion roughly chopped
- 1 bayleave
Start by making the bechamel sauce, place the milk, onion and bayleave in a small pot and heat to boiling point, then turn the heat off and allow the flavours to infuse.
In another pot, melt the butter and once melted and bubbling, add all of the flour and mix ensuring the butter and flour are fully incorporated. It will start to resemble breadcrumbs, this is what it should look like. Continue cooking for approximately 2 minutes, this is to ‘cook out’ the flour so you don’t have that flour flavour.
Start to drizzle the milk over a sieve/strainer (remove the onions and bay leave, they have done their job) into the butter/flour mix and whisk together, it may look a bit lumpy at the beginning, but don’t worry, keep whisking and it will come together as a thick sauce.
Continue cooking on a low heat until you have the consistency of mayonnaise. Then put aside until you are ready to use.
Now prepare the baguette, remove the soft centre of the bread and fill the space with bacon/ham, making sure you don’t have any spaces.
Put your frying pan on a medium heat and add some butter, allowing it to melt before you add the bread slices, crack an egg into each of the baguette slices and allow the bottom of the bread to brown, then fold over the excess bacon/ham and flip the slices over, this will brown the top of the slices.
Turn on your grill, mix your bechamel sauce and top each of your slices with a good spoonful of the bechamel sauce then top with some grated cheese.
Slip your pan under the grill and melt the cheese until bubbling.
Place 2 slices on a plate and enjoy.