A Luxurious, Modern & Garden-kissed Croque Madame
Saturday October 29, 2022

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A classic warm and toasted, full of cheese sandwich but without the extra slice of bread is my updated version of a French favorite – Croque Madame. But wait, it still gets even more delicious as we add a simple topping that brings an extra crunch and savory surprise, yep, fresh from the herb garden.

For this season’s final episode I wanted to share a favorite fall and winter dish I make and enjoy here at Le Papillon. An elevated grilled cheese sandwich many may say, but is there really anything that compares to a Croque Madame? I will leave others to debate this question. I am going to sit down and enjoy this delectable yummy dish. TSLL’s Croque Madame combines simple, everyday ingredients, yet when brought together create the most delicious savory bite to melt away a cold day or a difficult day and let you settle in for a comfortable evening of relaxing.

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Inspired by a recipe I found in a cookbook I have thoroughly enjoyed cooking from, À Table by Rebekah Peppler, it was her topping of fried sage leaves that cemented this detail must forever be included in the recipe that is Croque Madame.

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We will head over to the stove-top, and I will show you how to easily fry your sage leaves and taste them as we go because well, they are too hard to resist, their flavor profile resembling a potato chip, yet more delicate and melt-in-your-mouth.

I will also share with you simple secrets for frying a sunny-side egg that leaves the yolk runny to create the ideal first bite when you sit down to enjoy your Croque Madame.

In fewer than 30 minutes, you will be enjoying your very own Croque Madame. Paired with a side salad and a glass of wine – white, rosé or red – this classic French favorite will satisfy all ages.

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So before you begin, pick up (or make) your favorite crusty loaf of bread from your local bakery, and then get ready to delight in the marriage of cheese, ham, butter, flaky sea salt and crunchy sage leaves, all atop a delicious slice of your favorite bread. Oh! And of course the egg which makes it a Madame. 😉🇫🇷

With this episode wrapping up Season 5, you can now access the digital cookbook for all eight episodes in PDF form to print or save as you desire. If you are a TOP Tier Member, your Season 5 cookbook (and all seasons) is free — simply download here. If you are not a TOP Tier Member, pay only $8/cookbook (shop here).

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Croque Madame

Simply Luxurious
A French cozy classic with luxurious updates, additional layers of flavor and various complementary textures to satiate the tastebuds. Adaptation from À Table by Rebekah Peppler
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Bechamel Sauce 10 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 slices thick artisan bread
  • 4-6 Tbsp freshly grated Gruyére
  • 1 Tbsp herbes de Provence
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Maldon flaky sea salt

Bechamel Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk warmed on the stove prior to adding to the butter and flour mixture.
  • 1 pinch fleur de sel
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1-2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (traditional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp Whole Grain Dijon mustard
  • 4-6 slices favorite ham, Paris Ham is traditional, but it is your choice finely or thickly sliced, cook's choice

Instructions
 

Bechamel Sauce

  • Warm the milk: Add the milk to a separate sauce pan and warm. Over medium heat, you need to warm the milk up before adding to the flour and butter as this will speed up the process of completing the béchamel sauce (if you don't warm the milk, it will just take longer – about 10-12 minutes opposed to 5-7 minutes).
  • Place the butter in a small sauce pan over low-heat. Melt. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and mix until combined (keep on a low heat), and let the mixture slightly brown as this adds another layer of nutty flavor.
  • Add the warm whole milk to the flour and butter sauce pan and continually mix over medium heat until the sauce becomes thick enough to cover a wooden spoon.
  • Remove from the stove top and add the salt, nutmeg, paprika and mustards. Stir to combine. You are now ready to build your Croque Madame before putting it into the oven to bake.

Constructing Your Croque Madame

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (Fahrenheit), or 220 degrees celsius.
  • Grate the Gruyére. Prepare your baking sheet with parchment paper and place the two slices of bread on the parchment. Serve a large spoon-full of béchamel sauce over each slice of bread, covering it completely. Place 1-2 slices of ham on top of the béchamel sauce. Cover the ham with the grated gruyére. Sprinkle 1/2 Tbsp of Herbs de Provence over each slice. Then add freshly ground black pepper. Finish by adding freshly grated parmesan.
  • Place in the over preheated to 425 F/220 Celsius. And bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and beautifully golden brown.

Fried Sage Leaves

  • Over the entire bottom of a cast iron skillet or skillet for frying with olive oil. Prepare a paper towel, placing it beside your stove-top cooking area where you will place the fried sage leaves.
  • Remove the sage leaves from the stem as you will cook them invidividually, typically 3-4 at a time as they cook quickly, and will need to be turned in about 3-5 seconds upon placing in the oil. Bring the oil to medium-high heat, and then add your first batch of sage leaves. Watch the leaves as they will quickly turn a darker color and after 3-5 seconds, flip and cook the other side. Often when the sizzling stops, this is an indication that the cooking is done. Remove and place on the paper towel and immediately sprinkle them with flaky sea salt.

Pan-fried Sunny-side Eggs

  • Using the same oil you used for frying the sage, reduce the heat to medium. Break the eggs into the pan, immediately flavoring them with flaky sea salt and two twists of freshly ground pepper (to taste for both). To cook them through, but keep the yolk runny for a perfect sunny-side egg, place a lid on the pan. Cook the eggs for 2-3 minutes, then immediately place on a dish off the heat and get ready to transfer to the top of your baked bread with all the other flavorful ingredients.

To Finish

  • Place the fried sunny-side eggs, one on top of each of the pieces of bread. Then finish with 3-4 fried sage leaves on top of the egg. Voila!

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10 thoughts on “A Luxurious, Modern & Garden-kissed Croque Madame

    1. That’s what I do as I don’t have a microwave or only make just want you need and save the extra sauce and that is all you have to beat up on the stovetop, then making the bread, toasting, egg and sage fresh.

  1. Dêlicieux. Did you know that sage is loaded with antioxidants? It contains over 160 polyphenols.Also vitamin A C & E in small amounts plus some.other minerals. Bon appétit. 😊

  2. This is a revelation of sorts! I make Welsh Rarebit, which is similar but with one or 2 differences: I toast the bread lightly first & instead of baking it, just pop it under the broiler for a few minutes until everything is sizzling hot & the cheese is bubbly & starting to brown. Instead of nutmeg & paprika in the sauce I use a good shot of Worchestershire; some folk add a hefty splash of Guiness stout 🙂 My mother always put a couple of thick slices of fresh tomato on it in place of the egg. But I will be trying this version tout de suite! It sounds delicious — I mean, srsly, béchamel & cheese & fried sage?? It’s cold & windy & bucketing rain here today, perfect weather for it.

  3. My apologies, I’ve been so late in enjoying this season’s episodes that I have refrained from commenting, but ye gads, this is such a winner of a dish, I had to post! It has obviously been toooo long since I had a Croque Madame, love that you said, “Ditch one of the bread slices!”, sometimes sandwiches are just too..bready for me, and so that’s a definite wonderful change I will include. And I so adore a good sunny-side up runny egg, fried in olive oil! And I LOVE fried sage leaves! (Great to top a simple dish of ricotta and spinach ravioli.)
    Absolutely wonderful season, Shannon, so well planned, scripted, and filmed. It’s been such a joy that I’m planning on binging the entire season this weekend. Most likely whilst enjoying my Croque Madame, a salad of shaved brussel sprouts+pear+candied walnuts, accompanied by a buttery chardonnay…See how you inspire my tastebuds?!!
    Seriously, congratulations on this season of TSL Kitchen, thank you, and many chef’s kisses to you and your lovely assistants! BRAVA!!🥂

  4. Delicious! 🙂

    Made it last night for dinner, together with a simple fresh salad, no wine but green tea was consumed in not-so-modetae amounts…. In this instance, I also prefer only one slice of bread, as I usually choose a more rustic bread. If, for some reason two slices are necessary, I will cut them very thin then, or I will choose a softer bread. I had never prepared or eaten fried sage – it was a first, and it tasted really good.

    Thank you, Shannon, this season was brilliant Except for the soufflé (because so far, it did not yet fit), I cooked everything and everything was superb. I did not yet report back on the truffles, but no fear, turned out great, and although we do not have here the same chocolate you use, they were eaten way too quickly… I manged to “save” some to freeze, but just so. 🙂

    Many thanks and pats also for you lovely sous-chefs and assistants! 🙂

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