You all know I love a Wine & Dine Wednesday on a Thursday! We had our friend Mimi, along with her sweet pooch Evie, to lunch yesterday as they were visiting from Berkeley. I wanted to make a hearty lunch where we could just sit at the table for a long while and savor the conversation as well as the meal. A Croque Madame was the first thing that came to mind as I find them incredibly comforting, and oh so filling. I have watched the culinary legend Jacques Pépin make these tons of times, so this is my take on them. Speaking of comforting, if you enjoy watching people cook, search out his videos. I could watch them for hours. I added roasted Yukon gold potatoes and a green salad to go along with it, which made a pretty perfect trio. I have posted before on how to make these, but these are so darn good thought they deserved another shout-out.
OK, here we go. This really is primarily about assembling with just a bit of cooking. Turn oven to 400 degrees to warm up while you make the sandwiches. Choose a fabulous quality somewhat soft sliced white bread, with soft crusts. Lay the pieces out on an aluminum foiled baking sheet. Slice Gruyère cheese and lay slices on the bottom piece of the bread. Then add layers of Black Forest ham. Really any type of ham you will like will do. Then add another layer of Gruyère cheese on top of the ham. Yes, this is indeed heavily cheesed, but it is what makes it so darn good. Insert smile. With the top piece of bread, add a generous dollop of Dijon mustard and spread. Add it to the sandwich.
Now it is ready for the magical ingredient that pulls the whole thing together, softened butter. Carefully butter the top of the sandwich, wall to wall, making sure to cover the entire top of the bread, even the crust. Take a spatula and flip the entire concoction over. Repeat the buttering process for the bottom side, which is now the top. They are now ready for the hot oven. Check at 7 minutes and flip with the spatula. Cook another 5 to 7 minutes so both sides are nice and browned.
While those are cooking away, fry an egg or eggs, depending on how many Croque Madame you are making. Top it with the egg once you take it out of the oven. Plate things up and be ready to be quite happy.