Cheese sandwich,Béchamel sauce,Ham,Cheese,Comfort food,Bread,Salt and pepper,Milk

Get your grilled cheese on with this croque-madame recipe

October 12, 2016

Croque-madame. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

Sometimes, life doesn’t get better than a great grilled cheese sandwich. For a slight twist on this comfort food classic, give it a little French flair in the form of a croque-madame: rich béchamel sauce and ham stuffed between two slices of pullman bread, then topped with cheese that is melted to gooey perfection. On top of that goes a fried egg (this is what distinguishes the "madame" from the "monsieur"). It's unapologetic goodness on a plate. Just as it should be.

CROQUE-MADAME

Total time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time for the béchamel | Serves 6

Note: Adapted from La Dijonaise Cafe et Boulangerie in Culver City. The restaurant uses bread from a local bakery and recommends pullman-type bread for the sandwiches.

BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

2 cups milk

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

Pinch nutmeg

1. In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat just until bubbles appear around the edge. Reduce the heat and keep the milk warm over very low heat.

2. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. When it bubbles, whisk in the flour and continue to cook until the mixture forms a golden roux, 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Whisking constantly, add the warm milk in a steady stream. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with one-half teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper, along with the nutmeg, or to taste. Remove from heat and set aside until cooled. This makes about 2 cups sauce.

SANDWICH

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

12 slices sandwich bread

12 slices ham

Prepared béchamel sauce

6 slices Swiss cheese, diced

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Salt and pepper

6 eggs, fried sunny side up

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Butter 6 slices of bread. Top each slice of bread with 2 slices of ham, then divide the béchamel sauce evenly between the sandwiches, spreading it over the ham. Top each of the sandwiches with a second slice of bread.

3. In a small bowl, toss together the diced Swiss cheese and the mozzarella. Season the mixture with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper, or to taste.

4. Divide the cheese mixture evenly between the sandwiches, mounding it on top of each sandwich.

5. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and bake until the cheese is melted, 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the oven. This may need to be done in more than 1 batch.

6. Top each sandwich with a fried egg and serve immediately.

Each sandwich: 699 calories; 38 grams protein; 40 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 43 grams fat; 23 grams saturated fat; 334 mg. cholesterol; 8 grams sugar; 1,660 mg. sodium.

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