There's nothing like simple French food cooked in a tiny Paris kitchen, which is why we're loving cooking our way through Rachel Khoo's aptly named Little Paris Kitchen. Just because the French don't "do brunch" like we do doesn't mean a great weekend breakfast can't get a little fancy. Next up, Croque Madame Muffins.
Croque Monsieur is essentially a toasted cheese and ham sandwich. Put a fried egg on top and you’ve got a Croque Madame (the egg is supposed to resemble a lady’s hat). What makes the difference between a toasted cheese and ham sandwich and a Croque Monsieur is the cheese — in a Croque Monsieur it comes in the form of a creamy cheese sauce. And boy, does this make a difference!
My version of Croque Madame uses the bread as a muffin cup to contain the delicious cheese sauce and egg. Great as a snack, or have it with a green salad and fries, as they serve it in French cafés.
For the sauce Mornay
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk, lukewarm
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 cup Gruyère or mature Comté or other strong hard cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper
For the muffins
- 6 large slices white bread, no crusts
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 1/2 ounces ham, cut into cubes or thin strips
- 6 small eggs
For the sauce Mornay:
- Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the flour and beat hard until you have a smooth paste.
- Take off the heat and leave to cool for 2 minutes, then gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Place the pan back over a medium heat, add the mustard and nutmeg, and simmer gently for 10 minutes, whisking frequently to stop the sauce burning on the bottom of the pan.
- Once the sauce thickens and has the consistency of a thick tomato sauce, take it off the heat. Add the cheese (keep a little for the garnish) and taste for seasoning.If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk. If it’s lumpy, pass it through a sieve.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Flatten the slices of bread with a rolling pin, then brush each slice on both sides with melted butter.
- Line a 6-cup muffin tin with the slices of bread, pressing them in with the bottom of a small glass. Divide the ham between the muffin cups followed by the eggs (if the egg seems too big, pour a little of the white away before using).
- Put 2 tablespoons cheese sauce on top of each egg, then sprinkle with a little cheese and pepper. Bake for 15–20 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs. Serve immediately.
More delicious baked eggs for brunch on Food Republic: