A croque-monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. It originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. Typically, Emmental or Gruyère cheese is used. The name is based on the verb croquer (“to crunch”) and the word monsieur (“mister”). The sandwich’s first recorded appearance on a Parisian café menu was in 1910. Its earliest mention in literature appears to be in volume two of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time in 1918.
A croque-monsieur served with a fried egg or poached egg on top is known as a croque-madame (or in parts of Normandy a croque-à-cheval). Many dictionaries attribute the name to the egg resembling an old fashioned woman’s hat. According to the Petit Robert dictionary, the name dates to around 1960. The name croque-mademoiselle is associated with many different sandwiches, from diet recipes to desserts.
Here is my take on the croque-madame, in a non-ham guise.
1 slice of homemade wholemeal bread
50 g fresh butter
2 slices of Leidsekaas (Gouda flavoured with cumin)
Some butter sautéed mushrooms
Tablespoon of homemade mayonnaise
1 egg, poached
Salt, pepper, paprika, mace, (or curry if desired), sprig of parsley
Melt the butter in a flat omelette skillet and heat until it is sizzling and turning brown. Fry the bread in the butter until both sides are golden. Put the cheese and mushrooms on the bread in a plate and top with the mayonnaise. Poach the egg, seasoning well and top the open sandwich with it, heat in a very hot oven for a few minutes and garnish with the chopped parsley.
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