This is a classic. Belonging to a time of early Café society, bistro lined boulevards, and mentions in Proustian works next to madeleines, the Croque Monsieur (the Madame has an egg on it) is like the grilled cheese sandwich of France. It’s name literally means, Mister Crunch, or in our case Mrs. Crunch, due to it’s blistered béchamel top covering crusty, toasted bread. Typically served with Parisian ham, I adjusted mine a bit with prosciutto to make the most of the crunch factor. Once out of the oven and topped with an egg, it almost takes on the attitude of a savory french toast. Already decadent and delicious, if you want to really send this over the top, serve it with homemade french fries and extra béchamel for dipping. And then take a nap.
A Note on Breakfast Sandwiches:
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, but rarely do I ever eat it in the actual morning. I wake up and make myself a smoothie, or if I’m especially lazy I’ll just have a cup of drip until lunch time. The truth is, I’m not ready for a stomach bomb first thing in the morning, but by 11…bring it on!
The breakfast sandwich is the perfect 11 am (or elevensies, if you’re a Hobbit) meal. Kind of lunch, kind of breakfast, definitely not brunch, it’s a meal Chimera, a the best bits of everything, sandwiched between two pieces of toast. This month, I’m celebrating the 11 am eaters, the gooey egg lovers, the crunchy toast devourers. Breakfast sandwich lovers, raise your forks, our time has come!
3 tablespoon dijon mustard
6 slices sourdough bread, toasted
18 slices prosciutto
6 eggs, fried
1 3/4 pints milk
several sprigs of parsley
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon chili flake
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
8 ounces gruyere, grated
Preheat oven to 400F.
For the béchamel, bring the milk and everything else except for the butter and flour to a simmer. In a separate sauce pan, melt the butter, then add the flour, whisking to combine. Stir until doughy and smelling a bit nutty (about one minute). Strain in the milk about a half cup at a time, whisking to incorporate with the butter and flour mix. It should be smooth and velvety, not chunky or too thick. If it is, just add some more milk to thin it out. Off heat, add half of the cheese and stir together.
Meanwhile, toast the sourdough and spread with dijon. On a foil lined baking sheet, place the toast, and top with the prosciutto and remaining gruyere. Spoon on the béchamel (about a 1/4 cup per toast). and bake for 5 minutes. Turn up the heat to broil, and broil until bubbling and lightly browned (about 3 minutes). Top with a fried egg.