leave your inhibitions at the door
Have you ever seen those short recipe videos on Facebook?
You know the ones. They’re fast-paced, brightly lit, with whimsical music. And in all of them, everyone has all the ingredients neatly pre-measured in small glass bowls. Who the heck has 20 glass bowls and is that organized while cooking at home?
There are a few different genres, too. There are a bunch of “healthy” ones with ingredients like kale, kombucha, turmeric, and/or acai berries that look (and probably taste) as nasty as they sound. Then on the other side of the spectrum are ones that have an inordinate amount of chocolate, cheese, or bacon. Or sometimes all of the above. And then somewhere in the middle are a THOUSAND videos that involve piling a whole bunch of stuff in a crockpot so that lazy amateurs can feel like they’re Thomas Keller.
I’ve come to REALLY hate those videos.
That was, until I saw one that had the ACTUAL Thomas Keller and his Croque Madame.
I’ve made a few of his recipes before – like his mushroom soup and his potato pave. For me, there’s something to be said about – at least for one night – cooking something on par with one of the greatest chefs in the world. I mean, if you want to be a good cook, you want to learn from someone like him and not the guy at fucking Applebee’s, right?
Having made his recipes before, I know that it wasn’t going to be as simple as the video. This one starts with making the brioche – which is a very difficult bread to make and I absolutely suck at making ANY bread. So I went with a store-bought brioche. I also didn’t make the fries because, while I can eat 4 pounds in one sitting, I’m too lazy to make them myself.
Croque Madame with Mornay Sauce
The exact recipe I used is here.
– 8 slices of Brioche
– 8 ounces sliced ham
– 8 slices Swiss cheese – I used Comte
– 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
– 4 large eggs
– 1 cup Mornay Sauce
Make the Mornay Sauce
It’s a little different than in the video as this adds the cheese after the Béchamel is strained, unlike the video which adds the cheese before. I’m guessing the video’s method would have a really refined sauce, but passing it through a Chinois has got to be a pain in the ass. This version is just fine. The recipe also calls for using a diffuser – a metal plate that fits over a burner to ensure a slow, even boil. I used the small simmer burner on my cooktop. If you don’t have either, just stir it a lot and be extra vigilant that it doesn’t scorch or turn brown.
– 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
– 1/2 cup diced Spanish onion
– Kosher salt
– 3 Tablespoons flour
– 2 cups milk
– 1 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed
– 1 bay leaf
– 3 black peppercorns
– 3 whole cloves
– Freshly grated nutmeg
– Freshly ground white pepper
– 1/3 cup grated Comte or Emmentaler – I used Comte
1 – Melt the butter in a medium heavy saucepan set on a diffuser over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly so that the roux doesn’t burn or color.
Whisking constantly, add the milk and cream and whisk until fully incorporated. Bring to a simmer, whisking, then add the bay leaf, peppercorns, and cloves.
2 – Move the pan to 1 side of the diffuser, away from direct heat to avoid scorching, and bring back to a gentle simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, reaching into the corners of the pan, for about 30 minutes. (If the sauce does begin to scorch, pour it into a clean pan–don’t scrape the bottom of the pan–and continue.)
3 – Remove the sauce from the heat and season to taste with salt, a grating of nutmeg, and a pinch of white pepper. Strain the sauce, add the cheese, and whisk to melt.
Use immediately, or place in a storage container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to keep a skin from forming, and refrigerate for up to a week. If the sauce is too thick after refrigeration, it can be thinned with a little heavy cream.
4 – Preheat oven to 375 degrees
5 – Butter one side of a Brioche slice and place in a non-stick pan. Layer some ham and cheese on it and top with another slice of buttered Brioche (butter facing out). Lightly brown each side and place on an oven sheet. Repeat for the other sandwiches.
6 – Put the sandwiches in the oven to melt the cheese
7 – Meanwhile, cook the eggs in butter over low heat. As he mentions in the video, have it at a very low heat. Much like John Besh’s fried eggs.
8 – When the cheese in the sandwiches is melted, top with egg and pour 1/4 cup of the sauce over the egg whites.
Yes, you’ve just made a fancy ham and cheese sandwich. But it’ll be the best damn ham and cheese sandwich you’ve ever had.
If you’re not into eggs you can skip putting one on top. That’ll make it a Croque Monsieur instead.
I used leftover sauce, ham, and cheese to make a Croque Madame Pizza.
Have you ever made a recipe you saw on Facebook? Any good?