A croque monsieur and a croque madame are both grilled ham and cheese sandwiches that the French enjoy in cafés nearly every where for lunch. The main difference between the two is that a croque madame has an egg on top, while a croque monsieur does not. Then there is the Monte Cristo, which is nearly the same as the Monsieur except that it may add other meat, such as turkey and is often sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with jam or jelly.
All use pain de mie, which is a thin, soft crusted white or brown bread which essentially describes all of Abigail's Oven breads (except for maybe, the Jewish Rye, because of its unique flavor from caraway seeds). When these are made, the French often have the crust trimmed off all together or sandwiches are cut in round or star shapes, which also removes the crust. Naturally these shaped versions make delicate sandwiches that are a natural for any brunch, but simply cutting our bread into triangles will give essentially the same effect.
Here is a more detailed look at the three sandwiches:
The Croque Monsieur: (French pronunciation: [krowk muh·syur]) on our Country Loaf. The name "croque monsieur" comes from the French words "croque" (to crunch) and "monsieur" (mister). The name is thought to have originated in the early 20th century, when the sandwich was first created as a hearty meal for men.
A croque monsieur is traditionally made with thinly sliced baked or boiled ham and sliced cheese placed between slices of our REAL™ Sourdough Bread, topped with grated cheese and slightly salted and peppered, and then baked in an oven or fried in a frying pan.
Traditionally Gruyère is used, but sometimes Comté or Emmentaler cheese might be used. Most brasseries also add béchamel sauce. The croque monsieur may be baked or fried so that the topping melts and forms a browned crust.
Croque Madame: A croque madame is made with all the same ingredients as a croque monsieur, but with an egg on top (notice the béchamel sauce was not baked, but left loose under the egg). The egg could be sunny side up or poached and is usually placed on top of the sandwich after it is grilled, but either way the yolk should be left runny so that when cut it will drizzle down the sandwich.
The name "croque madame" is thought to have originated in the 1960s. The name is a play on words, as the fried egg on top of the sandwich is said to resemble a woman's hat.
A Monte Cristo sandwich is a variation of the croque monsieur, but with the addition of sliced turkey added the ham and Swiss cheese. Also, this sandwich is dipped in an egg batter, like French toast, and pan-fried instead of grilled, until golden brown. It is typically served with powdered sugar and a side of jam or maple syrup. The result is a sweet and savory combination that is golden and crispy on the outside but custardy in the middle.
The Monte Cristo sandwich is thought to have originated in the United States in the early 1900s. It is believed to have been inspired by the croque monsieur, but with a few key differences to make it more American-friendly. The egg batter and pan-frying method give the Monte Cristo sandwich a crispy exterior and a custardy interior, which is a contrast to the more traditional grilled or baked croque monsieur. The powdered sugar and jam or maple syrup toppings also add a sweetness that is not typically found in French cuisine.
All three sandwiches are typically served hot and are a popular breakfast, lunch, or dinner option in France. They are also a popular choice for brunch, especially in the United States.
So, there you have it! The croque monsieur and croque madame are two delicious French sandwiches and one American that are perfect for any meal of the day. If you're looking for a hearty and satisfying sandwich, I highly recommend giving one of them a try. Or make all three for Sunday Brunch.
And remember, if you are looking for a place to get delicious sourdough bread for Sunday brunch, we are in more than 30 stores throughout Utah, at Farmers Markets in Ogden, SLC Downtown, Murray, So Jordan, Draper, Daybreak, Provo, and Spanish Fork. Or course, on weekdays you can always drop by The Store at the Bakery: Mon 12:00 PM-5:00 PM, Tue 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, and Wed-Fri 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, at 421 South 200 East in Spanish Fork, Utah.
Author: Darryl Alder lives with his wife in Riverside Lodge, which is their home, along the Provo River in Utah. He is a retired career Scouter and outdoorsman who spent many hours over a campfire using a Dutch oven and loves sharing recipes for the kitchen and the campfire alike. You'll find many of his recipes on this blog and can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.