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A “Croque Madame” sandwich sounds fancy schmancy and difficult to make but with my recipe it’s super easy to make and ridiculously delicious! Just 6 ingredients and you have a total ‘WOW’ meal!
Anytime I hear well, anything French, I think about my high school French teacher – Mrs. E. She was one of those ‘cool’ teachers in school that let you be a free spirit in class, pass notes and even ‘share’ answers. She would take our desks and put them all in a circle so we could have one large discussion. The only rule was you were not allowed to speak in English at all. Anything you said had to be in French and had to be correct. Now when you’re a Freshman you learned the important things – “can I go to the bathroom? I need to see the nurse. I don’t understand” and with that she worked with you. But by senior year you had to speak French as well as well, a native French person. Lord help you if you forgot one of those important things like “I have to go to the bathroom”. LOL
One thing Mrs. E shared with us with her love of France was her love of French foods. We’d often have ‘French food days’ in class where we’d all pitch in and she’d bring in homemade French foods or better yet, make them in class. She’d make crepes, chocolate bread sandwiches, escargot – yes she fed high school students snails (and they rocked!) and then she made us Croque Madames.
Now if you’ve never had croque madame or even heard of one all you need to know is that they are AMAZING and you need it in your life ASAP! Now I’ll get into what goes into these beauties but when I tell you that you need one in your life/belly trust me on this.
When they amazing folks from Pepperidge Farm® were looking for awesome recipes to showcase their delicious breads featuring Hillshire Farm® Thin Sliced Honey Ham lunch meat and Hellmann’s® Real Mayonnaise it could not have been more perfect timing for me. So you all know I’m in the process of remodeling the house so we can put it on the market in April. Well part of that is going through all of our stuff to clean out the clutter which means I’m donating and selling stuff out the wazoo. Well as I was cleaning out my stuff I found my box of high school memorabilia. We’re talking yearbooks, corsages, school newspapers, even some old tests/homework. One of the items was from my French class where we had to memorize basic French introductions. ‘Bonjour Paul, Bonjour Anne. Comment allez-vous? Je suis bien. Au revoir Paul. Au revoir Anne.” Yes, even some x number of years later I still remember that. As I was strolling down memory lane I started to think about her class and those awesome foods she introduced us to. That’s where the Croque Madame came into the the picture. She was the person that introduced us to these. Throughout the years I’d make these on special occasions or when a customer wanted one.
This was one of those ‘not on the menu’ sandwiches I would serve at our pizza shop when folks came in early for either deliveries or our local township workers. This was the secret menu that even my brother didn’t know about – even though it was his place, I still had creative freedom. We already had all of the ingredients and while our food was awesome one can only have so many hoagies or pizzas. One needs variety. Thus these sandwiches. Through the years I fine tuned, tweaked and finally settled on what I deem the perfect croque monsieur. So what’s it take to make one of these amazing sandwiches?
Just 6 ingredients… and that’s where all of these amazing products from Pepperidge Farm, and Hillshire Farm® Thin Sliced Honey Ham lunch meat and Hellmann’s® Real Mayonnaise come into play.
Now you all know I visit my Super Walmart pretty much every Saturday for my groceries. You can’t beat the prices and the fact that they always have everything in stock. So okay the 6 ingredients – simple:
- Farmhouse™ Hearty White bread
- Hillshire Farms® Thin Sliced Honey Ham lunch meat – definitely grab the 9 oz resealable tub
- Hellmann’s® Real Mayonnaise in the 20oz squeeze
- Shredded Gruyere
- Prepared Bechamel sauce
- Dippy Eggs (ok you peeps may know it as over easy eggs)
So these sandwiches look fancy schmancy and difficult but honestly they aren’t. The hardest part is waiting for it to broil. Okay fine if you’re not familiar with how to make bechamel sauce you can buy it in the store. This recipe does tell you to use prepared bechamel sauce but if you check out the notes I tell you how to make it if you don’t want to buy it. But even at that, if you can melt butter, whisk in some flour then milk you’re all set. Just take your time making it and you’re set. Just look at the image below – seriously easy peasy. You got this!
Now when you make these you want quality ingredients. So let’s dish about the bread. You want a hearty and delicious bread. Pepperidge Farm bread is the perfect foundation for this sandwich! Not only is it delicious but this bread has history behind it. It has a strong heritage. It’s authentic and has a fresh, baker’s touch to it. Plus it’s double-wrapped for freshness! The bread is slow baked, hearty and delicious. It’s crafted from a small batch recipe using wholesome flavorful ingredients giving it that fresh from the oven taste. Next the meat. Hillshire Farm® is slow roasted for hours giving their honey ham the perfect flavor! Next the cheese – gruyere, period. That taste is undeniable. And lastly the creaminess of the Hellmann’s® Real Mayonnaise to balance it all out. The bechamel sauce is what sets the sandwich apart from your regular grilled cheese. And that dippy egg… oh dear sweet heaven! Fahgeddaboutit!
So yeah it was fate when the awesome folks Pepperidge Farm were looking for a sandwich. As soon as I read the email I knew EXACTLY what I was making. This sandwich. I was so excited to make this again as honestly it had been a few years since I made one. I make so much stuff that I honestly forgot about making this. But trust me, after making this and tasting that first bite all over again, this will be made often.
I’m just gonna put this little video right here … you know you want one
Okay you done drooling? Yeah, me neither. And I even made this! When I made this the guys were downstairs working on the flooring while I was making these sandwiches. I had my box of high school stuff on the counter going through it. Though to be honest I’m not sure what was making me smile more…strolling down memory lane OR the fact that I was making one of these sandwiches. Folks I’m telling you if you never had one – no, if you never had an AMAZING one you are so missing out. This sandwich is like one of the ultimate breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner/snack/late-night/anytime sandwiches. It is one of those sandwiches that other sandwiches strive to be!
Now if you paid attention in the pictures above you actually saw me making two sandwiches but in the ending shots like these above/below there is just a single sandwich. Yeah…I kinda-sorta-devoured-the-other-one-before-doing-the-photo-shoot. Wha? I had to perform quality testing, right? Now I could have easily called the guys upstairs to eat but being fully transparent here… I didn’t want to share *hangs her head*. This was one of those personal/private moments where I heard nothing though they were banging downstairs; literally nothing else existed in the world but my sitting at my kitchen island and this gloriously delicious sandwich before me.
So I’m a huge egg yolk fan. If you really hate yolks, then go with a fully fried eggs but folks I’m telling you that richness and decadent flavor that the creamy yolk adds to this dish seriously pushes this sandwich above and beyond every sandwich limit ever.
As I was eating my sandwich I was looking through my memory box. OMGosh the things I found truly made me smile. We’re talking old school autograph books, pictures from friends where you pretty much had a 2×2″ picture and you tried to write a book on the back of the picture promising to be bff’s for life. It’s funny because as I was looking through these pics I turned to facebook and it’s funny but many of these folks I have kept in touch with all these years or have rekindled friendships with all thanks to social media.
And as I ate my sandwich I started to smile thinking about how Mrs. E. would have been proud of me if she saw me now – making some of her dishes and even remembering many of her lessons. So to Mrs. E. “Merci beaucoup Madame E. Merci de me faire tomber en amour avec la France par tes yeux. Tu m’as inspiré de tant de façons.”
So let’s dish – what’s your favorite sandwich? Can you Sandwich with the Best? Check out these delicious recipes for inspiration!
- 4 Slices Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse™ Hearty White Bread
- 6 slices Hillshire Farm® Thin Sliced Honey Ham lunch meat
- 3 tsp Hellmann's® Real Mayonnaise
- 1 cup shredded gruyere
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup prepared bechamel sauce, warmed *see note
- Preheat the oven to broil, rack in the middle.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack in it. Place 4 slices of Farmhouse™ Hearty White Bread on the rack and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until lightly toasted.
- Remove from the oven, remove 2 slices of bread from the tray and flip the other 2 slices over (broiled side facing down). On the 2 pieces of bread on the tray place 3 slices of Hillshire Farm® Thin Sliced Honey Ham lunch meat. Evenly divide the shredded cheese and place on top of the ham.
- Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- While the cheese is melting spread 1 1/2 tsp of Hellmann's® Real Mayonnaise on the 2 other slices of bread.
- When the cheese is melted, remove it from the oven and place the bread with the Hellmann's® Real Mayonnaise side facing down on top of the melted cheese.
- Evenly pour/spread the warmed bechamel over top of the bread.
- Pop this back in the oven and broil for another 1-2 minutes just until the bechamel starts to bubble. ~1-2 minutes.
- While the bechamel is broiling cook the eggs in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the whites are set and the yolk is still runny.
- Remove the bread from the oven and place the dippy eggs on top.
- Serve immediately.
2 Tbl butter, unsalted
2 Tbl flour
1 1/4 cup of milk
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
1. In a saucepan over medium heat melt the butter. When the butter begins to foam add in the flour and whisk to combine. Cook for 5 minutes whisking often.
2. Slowly pour in the milk a little at the time whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Once the milk is all poured in, reduce the heat to medium low and whisk until the sauce thickens. ~5-7 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and add in the salt, pepper and nutmeg stirring to combine.