Croque Madame is a savory, indulgent sandwich, traditionally made with ham, but this vegetarian version uses caramelized onions and garlic to add the savory
Back at it with another round of French Friday! Check out the first French Friday edition – Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee – to see what French Friday is all about!
I had some help with this one from you, my favorite foodie people. Over on Insta stories, it was almost an absolute TIE between the vegetarian and traditional versions.
Naturally, I had to do both!
I’m ecstatic to say: the wait is over! Here is the ultimate vegetarian version and the traditional version. Be warned, you may never look at a sandwich the same again.
WHAT IS A CROQUE MADAME?
Only the greatest, most indulgent sandwich around. The French really have this whole sandwich thing figured out.
It’s essentially like a grilled cheese on steroids. Or a ham and cheese sandwich on steroids. With extra melty cheese and a creamy bechamel sauce piled high on top, the indulgence factor is out of this world.
Traditionally the filling of the sandwich is ham, a thin layer of dijon mustard, and a little more cheese (ahem, GRUYERE) to hold it together.
It’s creamy, savory, slightly salty, and….
AND HAS A FRIED EGG ON TOP.
Or a sunny side up egg. Whatever kind of egg you prefer, really. Can you get more extra? I think not… because this is about as amazing as it gets.
HOW TO MAKE A VEGETARIAN CROQUE MADAME
How does one take a traditionally meat-filled sandwich and turn it into a vegetarian feast? One that’s just as equally indulgent and savory?
Caramelized onions. And garlic.
The answer to everything, my friends.
The onions and caramelized into a rich golden brown, and towards the end of the cooking process the garlic slices are added, they too become caramelized and turn into a deep, savory delicacy.
No one can argue with caramelized onions and garlic in a mix of crusty bread, melty gruyere, and a creamy bechamel. I mean NO ONE can.
Want to really go above and beyond? Put both the caramelized onion mix and the ham together (for meat-eaters obviously) and have a really out of this world experience!
HOW TO LAYER A CROQUE MADAME
I always got confused by this. Maybe it’s the teacher’s brain, maybe it’s just that I couldn’t get past the deliciousness of what was about to be.
But it’s rather quite easy: think grilled cheese.
- Bread slice with Dijon mustard
- Filling (this is where ham, or caramelized onion, or both comes in)
- More cheese
- Second bread slice
- Grilled up on both sides
- Layered with béchamel sauce
- More cheese
- Fried Egg
That seems like a lot of steps when it’s bullet-pointed out, but I promise you it’s not. And it’s so, so worth it.
WAIT, WHAT IS A BECHAMEL?
Simply put, a béchamel is a white sauce.
But it’s the QUEEN of sauces in French cooking.
Luxuriously creamy, it’s made with milk and a roux (flour + butter), and lightly flavored with nutmeg (to bring out the subtleties in the roux and cheese), and garlic in my case, to enhance the flavors as garlic so does.
HOW TO MAKE THE BECHAMEL
You’ll start with a simple roux – a paste of butter and flour.
Then, you’ll slowly whisk in warmed milk. That’s key! You absolutely want the milk to be warm before it’s whisked in, otherwise, you run the risk of burning the roux while the milk comes up to temperature.
And the mix of temperatures just isn’t ideal. Nobody likes a cold shock, especially not your melted butter! Warm that milk!
WHEN TO EAT A CROQUE MADAME
Is it wrong to say for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? It’s basically what I’ve been doing since I first developed my version of this indulgent sandwich.
That being said, while I haven’t been to France yet, I do know that Croque Madame’s are often snacked on in cafes.
But a lazy weekend breakfast? Absolutely.
How about brunch? Of course.
Hangover cure? Most definitely.
“Breakfast” for dinner? Always.
Basically, just go ahead and enjoy one whenever the mood strikes. Traditional or vegetarian, this sandwich is going to quickly be a favorite in your recipe rotation!
When you make this recipe, be sure to take a picture and tag me over on Instagram. I love to see recipes come to life in YOUR kitchen!
Bon appetite, and Happy French Friday!Print