how to make: croque madame!

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Melty, broiled ham & cheese with a runny fried egg–what’s not to like?

When I first went to Paris probably 15 years ago, I did not learn the brilliance of this dish.  I may have even turned up my nose at it–no wonder my parents were frustrated!  That little girl had no sense, absolutely no sense at all.

I’ve now learned my lesson.  It’s a favorite sick-food of mine, and easy enough both for sick girls and for well-meaning husbands to attempt!

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For two sandwiches, melt a tablespoon of butter into a small saucepan (medium heat).  Add a tablespoon of flour, and whisk.  The flour will start to brown–this is good!–and once it’s a nice caramel color, add about 2/3 cup milk and continue whisking.  The mixture will thicken, and now, you’ve made bechamel sauce!  Congratulations!

We’re not done yet.  Add a healthy handful, maybe a bit more than 1/2 cup, of a good hard cheese like gruyere, parmesan, or little bits of whatever is in your fridge.  Now, you have Mornay sauce.  Isn’t that much better?

Now, take four slices of bread (the airier the better, as to soak up the sauce), spread two with mustard, and layer a slice or two of ham with a slice of cheese (can be something different–I had Havarti–or the same as above), and top with the other slices of bread.  Pour the Mornay sauce over the top, and sprinkle a few tablespoons of grated gruyere on top.  BROIL.

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While broiling, heat up your nonstick skillet and fry two eggs.  Once the cheese is bubbling on the sandwiches, take ’em out, top ’em with an egg, and grab a fork & knife–no way to eat this “sandwich” with fingers!

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