Let’s get something out of the way first.
The Croque Monsieur is, essentially, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. But the Croque Monsieur came first, out of France, and didn’t get to America until later. Take it one step further and throw a fried or poached egg on top and it’s a Croque Madame. All of a sudden it’s a girl sandwich. Which makes sense I suppose. Boy sandwich no eggs, and girl sandwich yes eggs. But it does all sound better in French.
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2 slices bread
1-2 slices cheese (Gruyère, typically)
1-2 slices ham
1 tablespoon softened or spreadable butter
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1. Butter only one side of each slice of your bread.
2. Put one slice of your bread, butter-side down into a frying pan / skillet on your stovetop. On the slice of bread, lay a slice of cheese and a slice of ham (repeat if you’d like). Top with your other side of bread, butter-side up. I went with Emmental Cheese and some Spanish ham on this particular day.
3. Turn your flame on under the pan, at medium.
~ This is one of just a few times I never pre-heat my pan. I don’t believe it’s necessary. If anything, it’s easier to layer your sandwich without a flame. And the cheese in the sandwich melts just a little better in my opinion, without pre-heating the pan.
~ It’s up to you if you want to start frying your over-easy-or-medium egg in a separate pan, or wait to use the same one you’re using above for your sandwich. I am rarely in that huge a rush and I prefer making less dirty dishes as possible, so I usually wait until my sandwich is sufficiently toasted on both sides.
4. Once you flip your sandwich sizzling in your pan and have a nice brown crust on both sides, you have a Croque Monsieur already. Throw your egg on top and you have your Croque Madame. My secret to the perfect egg? Cover it! Yes, cover the pan while your egg is frying for a bit. Seriously.
~ I often throw curry ketchup on top.
There are so many variations of this sandwich, and really you can make it as complicated as you want or as simple as this recipe. With a Béchamel sauce, or using round or sourdough bread, ham or mystery meat
Whatever your budget or skills set or taste, just enjoy!