Sunday Brunch: Croque-Madame

croque madame This lovely French bistro staple is delicious, easy to make, and perfect for a Sunday brunch whilst reading the New York Times in the sun. I made this dish with the Béchamel sauce, but it is of course optional. Croque-madame differs from croque-monsieur because of the fried egg. Enjoy!
• 4 slices sourdough bread, sliced 1/2-3/4 inch thick • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, sliced into 1/16-inch thick slices • 6 ounces good quality ham, sliced into 1/16-inch thick slices • 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter • Fleur de sel or kosher salt, to taste • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste • 1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour • 2 tablespoons butter • 1 cup milk • 2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard Cook on a skillet. Butter bread and place slices buttered side down. Cover with cheese slices and 3 or 4 slices of ham in an even layer over the cheese. Place the top slice of bread over the ham, buttered side up. Most should fit two sandwiches nicely. This should only take 2-3 minutes.
Crack each egg into its own small bowl to check that the yolks aren’t broken. In 2, 6-inch non-stick skillets, melt half of butter over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble. Pour 1 egg into each pan, being careful not to break the yolks. Add a teaspoon of water to each pan and sprinke with fleur de sel. Cook eggs for 3 minutes for a soft-cooked egg and 5-6 minutes for a firmer egg. Center a fry egg over each of the grilled sandwiches and sprinkle with pepper.
Béchamel sauce:
Place a small sauce pot over medium low heat and melt 2 tablespoons butter in it. Whisk in a rounded tablespoon of flour and cook 1 minute or so. Whisk in milk and bring to a bubble then drop heat to low. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, nutmeg and Dijon. When sauce coats back of a spoon, turn off heat.