The croque monsieur is a French toasted ham and cheese sandwich with a Mornay sauce. The name is based on the verb croque ("to crunch") and the word monsieur ("mister").
A croque Madame is a dish topped with a fried egg.
To prepare the dish,
- Slices of bread are buttered on one or both sides, covered with sliced cheese, and topped with another piece of bread.
- The sandwich is then dipped in beaten eggs mixed with milk (or cream) and fried in butter until it turns golden brown on both sides.
- Some recipes call for béchamel sauce instead of (or as well as) cheese, but this is not authentic. In France, the traditional recipe uses gruyère cheese.
The sandwich can also be fried on a plancha instead of a frying pan or baked in an oven. It may be gratinated under a salamander broiler with more cheese and béchamel on top when baking. The French word croque is derived from croquer, meaning 'to crunch.' A croque-monsieur served with a poached or lightly fried egg on top.
Meaning of Croque Monsieur
Croque Monsieur is a baked or fried boiled ham and cheese sandwich. The dish originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. It is traditionally made from bread, cheese, and ham, though many variations on the original recipe. A croque Madame is a dish topped with a fried egg.
The name is based on the verb croquer ("to crunch") and the word monsieur ("mister"). The sandwich's first recorded appearance on a Parisian café menu was in 1910. However, its earliest mention in literature appears in two of Proust's novels from the early 1920s.
- Several different stories exist to explain the origin of the name croque-monsieur, but none have been verified. Among the more plausible theories, it has been suggested that it refers to the practice of eating the sandwich while standing at a counter (croquer means "to crunch" or "to munch").
- According to others, the name derives from an incorrect spelling of Croque monsieur, named after Monsieur Croque, whose habit of eating melted cheese sandwiches ultimately led to his death.
Origin of Croque Monsieur
Croque Monsieur - Crunchy Monsieur - is a baked or fried boiled ham and cheese sandwich. The dish originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack.
There is no definitive answer to the question where Croque Monsieur was invented. However, there are two main theories:
- The first theory said that Croque Monsieur derived from toast popularized by the English in France in the 18th century. In France, people started to eat sandwiches for lunch around 1840. Since then, it has been so common to eat sandwiches for lunch that it is now called "le casse-croûte" (snack) or simply "le croque."
- The second theory said that Croque Monsieur was born in 1910 when an employee of the Mollard cafe came up with the idea of adding cheese and egg to their traditional ham sandwich.
How to eat a Croque Monsieur?
It's easy to turn it into an open-faced sandwich. Just take a bite out of one end, and then lay the piece you've bitten off to the side.
You're taking a bite perpendicular to the rest of the sandwich, and then using that bite as a handle for the second half.
It's more work than just eating it like a regular sandwich, but it doesn't involve any real risk of dropping cheese or other ingredients on your shirt. That is until you get down to the last few bites and have only melted cheese to hold onto.
Difference between a croque Madame and a Croque Monsieur
- The difference is that one is topped with a fried egg, and the other isn't. The names are respectively translated to "madam sandwich" and "mister sandwich," which means that the Madame version has an egg on top.
- If you've never seen or tried a croque monsieur, it's essentially a delicious ham and cheese sandwich, made with French ham (called jambon), Gruyère cheese, and served up with a white sauce. It's a classic Parisian dish that you can find pretty much everywhere in Paris, but also all over France. The only other ingredients in this recipe are milk and flour.
- The Croque Madame is made with the same ingredients but a fried egg on top. There are many stories about where this name comes from, but the most popular theory is that the yolk from the egg looks like a hat, which is what women used to wear when Mr (Monsieur) was around.
Why Croque Monsieur is a so called?
It is called a croque monsieur because it was initially eaten by gentlemen ("Monsieur" in French).
- The croque monsieur was initially known as toasted ham and cheese (the "ham" being the most prized part of the pig, which was once considered a delicacy), or, according to another source, as a croque-madame, because it was so filling that it could well replace the midday meal.
- It is made from two slices of white bread with one or more slices of ham and cheese between them. Then it is grilled until the cheese melts. Some people also like to add bechamel sauce on top.
Why Croque Madame have an egg on top
The origin of the fried egg on top of the croque monsieur seems to be lost in history. We can imagine that when an enterprising chef had some extra eggs on hand, they decided to try frying one and adding it to their famous ham and cheese sandwich. This added protein would've turned a snack into something closer to a meal, providing more staying power for hungry customers.
- Whatever its origins, this dish was popularized by Parisian bar owners during World War I. Poorer families who could not afford meat would often order sandwiches made with cheap ham or sausage, which became known as "workers' sandwiches."
- These same cafés and bars were also known for serving alcohol — especially wine — which gave rise to other slang terms like "wine sandwiches" or "wine snacks" (les moules.
What French eat with croque monsieur?
Croque monsieur is a sandwich traditionally made of ham, cheese, and bread, although there are variations.
The first version of a croque monsieur was a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. This version was made with bread with ham and cheese on top of the bread. However, this version did not include any béchamel sauce or egg on top as the modern version does.
A croque madame is an inverted dish topped with a fried egg. The use of the name is first attested in French in the 1950s. The representation is based on the story that a wife would order the sandwich, whereas her husband would call just a regular croque monsieur without the fried egg.
Wines that goes well with Croque Monsieur
There's nothing like the buttery perfection of a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. The best part is that it's easy to make and doesn't require any unique ingredients. But if you want to make the most of your experience, you need to know what wine to pair with it!
- The first thing you need to do when pairing food and wine is considered the dish's elements. Croque monsieur has a lot going on: it's salty from the ham and cheese, it's creamy from the béchamel sauce, yet it also has a crispy exterior from being oven-toasted.
- You have to consider all these things when picking out your wine.
The classic match for croque monsieur is Champagne or sparkling wine, which balances the richness with its acidity and bubbles.
However, there are other options—here are some of our favorites:
White Wine: Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc
Red Wine: Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir
Best bread for Croque Monsieur
When choosing bread for a croque monsieur, the same rules apply to a grilled cheese sandwich: you want something sturdy enough to stand up to the cooking process but tender enough to bite into easily.
The best loaves for these sandwiches are brioche, challah, and white or wheat sandwich bread.
- You can use any bread for a croque, monsieur. In general, the softer and more tender the bread, the better. A soft white sandwich loaf like Wonder Bread is favorite.
For a more authentic croque monsieur, use a dense, chewy French bread like pain de mie or pain de campagne. Pain au lait, brioche and challah are other good choices.
Side dish for Croque Monsieur
The most popular side dish is a simple green salad, although it can be topped with vinaigrette for extra flavor.
Other options include:
- Fried potato chips or French fries
- A small tomato salad
- Green beans
- A portion of fruit
Sauces for Croque Monsieur
You'll find croque monsieurs a lot in Parisian cafes and brasseries, and they can also be a great snack at home. There are so many options to choose from when it comes to sauces, and this is an excellent opportunity to play with different combinations.
Here are some ideas:
- Mustard: Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard to the besciamella sauce.
- Mornay Sauce: Add 50g/1¾oz grated cheese (Gruyère or Emmental) to the besciamella sauce.
- Sauce Tomate: Roughly chop the flesh of half a ripe tomato, then place in a bowl and season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Spread over the croque monsieurs before grilling.
Simple Tomato Sauce:
- Chop 2 onions and fry in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until golden brown.
- Add chopped canned tomatoes and water—season with salt and pepper.
- Cook for 30 minutes on medium heat until thickened.
- Add chopped basil leaves and spread over the croque monsieurs before grilling.
Use of cheese in Croque Monsieur
But there's a mad genius to the sandwich that many of us don't know: The Croque Monsieur can be easily turned into a Croque Madame by adding an egg on top. That's why I consider it such a perfect springtime meal.
It starts with two slices of sturdy white bread, buttered on one side and filled with thinly sliced ham and cheese. Toast it in the oven to melt the cheese and butter the bread until golden brown. Then top it with béchamel sauce, which you can make yourself or use jarred Alfredo sauce as a substitute (I won't tell).
While it's hot, fry an egg in clarified butter for about two minutes on each side. There, you just made a Croque Madame! Place the fried egg on top of your sandwich and serve immediately.
The best cheese to use for a Croque Monsieur is Gruyere cheese.
Here's a little more information on the Croque Monsieur:
A croque monsieur is a baked or fried boiled ham and cheese sandwich. The dish originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. A croque madame is a dish topped with a fried egg. The name is based on the verb croquer ("to crunch") and the word monsieur ("mister"). The sandwich's first recorded appearance on a Paris café menu was in 1910.
Some tips for making Croque Monsieur
Croque monsieur is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. A popular snack in French cafés and restaurants, it's typically made with buttery brioche or crust less, square-cut white bread, thinly sliced ham, Gruyère or Emmental cheese, and a creamy béchamel sauce.
Chef Raymond Blanc shares his top tips for making the perfect croque monsieur:
- Use good quality bread. Brioche will give the most decadent flavor. You can also use country bread if you prefer a slightly rustic texture.
- Choose your ham carefully and slice it thinly. Parma ham works well if you're making this dish in summer as it's less salty than other hams and has a lighter texture.
- Buy fresh Gruyère cheese and grate it yourself rather than pre-grated cheese, which doesn't have the same depth of flavor.
- For the best filling, use an egg yolk – this adds richness to the cheese sauce and contributes to the authentic croque monsieur taste.
So, you can make easily this popular Croque Monsieur with help of these tips.