Recipe adapted from The Foreign Cinema Cookbook (Harry N. Abrams, 2018)
At San Francisco’s longtime wine destination Foreign Cinema, the Croque Madame has garnered somewhat of a cult following. It never leaves the brunch menu. Serve this knife-and-fork sandwich with fries and salad.
- 3½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ⅓ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 (½-inch thick) slices good-quality sandwich bread, like pain de mie
- 4 ounces sliced Gruyère
- 2 ounces dry-cured ham, sliced thin, like Bayonne or prosciutto
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup béchamel sauce (recipe below)
In small bowl, stir 1½ tablespoons butter with mustard, Worcestershire and cayenne. Spread mixture on 2 bread slices. Divide ham and cheese between bread. Top each with unbuttered bread slices, and press down.
In large, heavy skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. When butter sizzles (but before it browns), add sandwiches. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until bread turns golden and cheese melts, about 3 minutes. Flip sandwiches, and add 1 tablespoon butter to pan. Cook until golden, about 3 minutes.
Set oven rack about 8 inches from top broiler. Heat broiler. Place sandwiches on baking sheet lined with foil. Set aside.
Warm oiled, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crack egg into pan. Cook until it just begins to set, about 20 seconds. Slide onto 1 sandwich. Repeat with second egg.
Spoon béchamel over sandwiches, leaving yolk exposed. Broil until béchamel browns in a few places, but yolks remain somewhat runny. Serves 2.
In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Stir in 1 tablespoon flour and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful not to brown flour. Whisk in 1 cup whole milk. Bring to boil, whisking constantly. When sauce thickens, reduce heat to low and simmer. Whisk occasionally until sauce has consistency of thick gravy, about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper and pinch of nutmeg, to taste. If sauce is lumpy, pass through fine-mesh sieve.
Domaine Jean-Claude Lapalu 2018 Alma Mater (Vin de France). “The nose of this new-school carbonic Gamay is all red-berry fruit with a soft underpinning of earth, with the palate opening up into red currant and a nice leafy quality,” says Shannon Tucker, Foreign Cinema’s wine consultant. “Its soft structure is a great complement to the sandwich, with enough brightness to balance out the richness.”
William Chris 2018 Pétillant Naturel Rosé Sparkling (Texas). This fresh, juicy wine pairs well with the sandwich’s salty elements, while the bubbles help refresh the palate between bites of this decadent dish.