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I first tried Croque-Madame at my favorite bakery in Olympia, Washington, The Bread Peddler. I miss that bakery. Not that I'm complaining, Bend has several that I enjoy just as well. But The Bread Peddler is not to be missed should you find yourself in Olympia.
Anyway, back to the Croque-Madame. It's wonderful: toasted bread, salty rich ham, creamy béchamel, melty cheese, and a sunny-side up egg.
You may have noticed that I like open faced sandwiches (like Welsh Rarebit and Egg Salad) and that I like to to top things with fried eggs, for example: Cauliflower Fried Rice, Sweet Potato Hash and Corned Beef Hash. So it won't surprise you to know that I choose not top this with a second slice of bread as some versions do and that I prefer Croque-Madame to Croque-Monsieur, the only difference being a fried egg. And though I don't dislike it, I find the béchamel unnecessary.
Thus, 'Almost Croque-Madame'.
Not only does the lack of béchamel and one less slice of bread make this lighter than the classic, it's much simpler to make and is just as delicious.
Be sure to have all of your ingredients ready to assemble before you begin making the sandwiches. The trickiest part is timing the fried egg to coincide with the sandwiches' first pass under the broiler without overcooking either. It may take a couple of tries to get it just right, but I doubt you'll mind.
- 2 1-inch slices crusty peasant bread toasted, I used whole wheat levain
- 4 teaspoons salted butter
- 4 ounces thinly sliced ham
- 2 ounces Comté or Gruyere shredded
- 2 eggs fried sunny-side up**
- olive oil or butter for frying eggs
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat broiler.
- Place toasted bread on broiler safe baking sheet. Spread 2 teaspoons of butter on each slice. Top each slice with 2 ounces ham and ½ ounce cheese. Broil, just until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and top each slice with a fried egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve.