Croque Madame

*Croque Madame*
serves 4

A traditional ham and cheese toastie, topped with bechemal sauce and a fried egg.  Delicious!

5 TBSs butter
2 1/2 TBS flour
1 3/4 cup milk
1 TBS brandy
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
pinch  thyme
pinch of grated nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 slices of sturdy white sandwich type bread
4 tsp Dijon mustard
4 ounces of Gruyere cheese, grated
12 ounces of leftover ham, sliced
1/2 ounce of Parmegiano-Reggiano, finely grated
4 large free range eggs, at room temperature

Melt 2 TBS of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat.  Whisk in the flour, whisking constantly until it begins to turn beige in colour.  Slowly whisk in the milk, iin a slow and steady stream.  Cook and whisk constantly until it is smooth and thickened and slightly bubbling.  Whisk iin the brandy, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat and set aside, whisking now and then to help prevent a skin from forming.

Position your broiler rack 4 inches from the heat and heat the broiler to high.  Spread 4 slices of the bread on one side each with 1 tsp of Dijon mustard.  Top with the slices ham and then the cheese.  Place the remaining 4 slices of bread on top.

Melt 1 TBS of the butter in a 12 inch non stick skillet over medium heat.  Cook 2 of the sandwiches until brown and crisp, turning once, halfway through the cooking to brown the remaining side.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and repeat with another TBS of the butter and the remaining 2 sandwiches.

Melt 2 Tbs. of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking just until it turns beige, about 20 seconds. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream; continue whisking until smooth, thickened, and slightly bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the brandy, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Whisk for 30 seconds; then remove from the heat and set aside, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.  Ladle the bechamel sauce over top of the sandwiches.  (It will run down the sides, but that's ok.)  Sprinkle with the Parmigiano Reggiano.  Broil until bubbling and lightly browned.

Melt the remaining 1 TBS of butter in the skillet over medium heat.  Crack in the eggs and fry them sunny side up until the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny.

Transfer the sandwiches to serving plates, placing a fried egg on top of each.  Sprinkle with salt and a good grinding of black pepper and serve.