What is a Croque Madame and Why Should You Make One Right Now?

What is a Croque Madame and Why Should You Make One Right Now?

Last week in the Chef’s Notes Gourmet Sandwich Series, I showed you how to make the Ultimate Grilled Cheese. This week we are going to make another kind of grilled cheese, the French kind. We will make a Croque Madame, which, if you don’t know, is just a Croque Monsieur with an egg on the top. Does that clarify things for you? No? Oh, okay, well, let me explain in a little more detail then.

Croque Madame vs. Croque Monsieur

Like I said in the intro, a Croque Madame is a Croque Monsieur with an egg on it. But that begs the question, what is a Croque Monsieur? A Croque Monsieur is a French ham and cheese sandwich. Of course, the French always take things up a notch, so this is no everyday ham and cheese. The French take Brioche Bread, top it with bechamél, lots, and lots of Swiss cheese, ham, more bechamél, bread, even more bechamél, and more cheese. The sandwich is baked in the oven to warm it through then finished under a broiler to brown it. Yeah, that’s a god damn sandwich. To make the sandwich a Croque Madame, the already ridiculously decadent beast is topped with a sunny side up egg. Does that sound like something you can get behind? Good, then let’s make one.

Make a Bechamél Sauce

First up, we need to make a quick bechamél. To do that, melt 1 tbsp of butter, then stir in 1 tbsp of flour. I used Bob’ Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free flour if you are wondering. Stir the melted butter and flour together for a minute or two, then add in 1 cup of whole milk. Stir on medium-low heat until the milk starts to thicken. Season the bechamel with a pinch of salt and pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of onion powder, and a pinch of garlic powder. Continue to cook the bechamél until you can no longer taste raw flour. This should take about 10 minutes in total. Make sure to stir it almost non-stop throughout the cooking process so it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pot.

Once the bechamél is made, you can set it aside and move on to the next steps in making this sandwich. The amount of bechamél in this simple recipe makes enough for two sandwiches. You can read more about bechamél and its derivative sauces here.

Simple Bechamél

A quick and simple bechamél sauce for a Croque Monsieur or a Croque Madame
Total Time: 15 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Bechamel, Mother Sauce
Servings: 2 Sandwiches
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Flour gluten-free all-purpose or regular all-purpose
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • pinch pepper
  • pinch Salt
  • pinch Nutmeg
  • pinch Garlic Powder
  • pinch Onion Powder


  • Melt the butter in a small pot. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Whisk the milk and seasonings into the butter and flour mixture and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

The Bread

Most commonly, the bread used for a Croque Madame is Brioche, which is an enriched bread. Meaning, it is loaded with milk and butter. You can use any bread you want for this, but the brioche adds a lot to the sandwich. I used Promise Gluten Free Brioche. But again, use whatever you have on hand. Lightly toast the bread before doing anything else. Toasting will help the bread withstand the bechamél and a load of melted cheese. This isn’t strictly traditional, but just like with the grilled cheese last week, I like to brush the bread with a little Dijon Mustard. The mustard adds a bit of tang to cut through the richness of the sandwich.

Once the bread is toasted and brushed with Dijon mustard, spread an even layer of bechamél on all four pieces of the bread.

Making the Sandwich

I used a generic Swiss Cheese to make my sandwich, and I paid for it a little bit. Because I cheaped out on the cheese, my sandwich ended up with a slightly bitter taste. It was still delicious, but it would have been better with better quality cheese. I recommend Jarlsberg Cheddar, Comté, or Gruyere. In total, for the two sandwiches, I used about one very full cup of grated cheese.

Divide the amount of cheese you have in thirds. Divide the first third of the cheese in two and put it on the two bottom pieces of bread. Lay five to six slices of ham on the bottom slices of bread. I used honey roasted ham because it was all I could get at my local grocery store. Use the best quality ham you can find/afford. The quality of the ham, just like with the cheese, will have a direct impact on the overall quality of the sandwich. Top the ham with the second third of the cheese. Then the second piece of bread. Finally, top the bread with more bechamél and the rest of the cheese.

Cooking the sandwich

Put the sandwich on a broiler pan and bake in the oven on 400°f for 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven, turn the broiler on, let it heat up for a minute or two, then put the sandwiches back in. Watch the sandwiches very carefully as they will go from not brown to brown, to burnt very quickly. As soon as the cheese browns, take them out of the oven. Browning should only take a minute or two.

You my friends have just made a Croque Monsieur. But, let’s make this Monsieur a Madame.

Dude looks like a lady

To make the Croque Monsieur a Croque Madame, we have to put an egg on it. I didn’t take any pictures of me cooking the sunny side up eggs, but I have a tip or two that I can share. When making sunny side up eggs, heat the pan over medium heat, then once the egg goes in, turn it down slightly. Also, use a bit more oil or butter than you usually would. Use that extra fat to baste (spoon the hot fat over) the whites. Basting will help cook the whites through so you don’t end up with those dreaded jiggly whites. Once the egg is cooked, slip it on top of the sandwich and enjoy.

Croque Madame

A Croque is a fancy French Ham and Cheese Sandwich (Croque Monsieur) with an egg on top.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwich
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Croque Madame, Croque Monsieur, French Food, Gourmet Sandwich, Reuben Sandwich
Servings: 2 Sandwiches
Author: Chef’s Notes


  • 4 slices Brioche Bread
  • 4 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 batch bechamel (about 1 cup) see bechamel recipe earlier in post
  • 1 cup Grated Swiss Cheese
  • 12 slices Good Quality Ham
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 tbsp Canola Oil
  • 1 tbsp butter


  • Lightly toast the bread then spread each piece with the dijon and bechamél.
  • Divide the cheese into thirds. Divide the first thrid in to on to the bottom two pieces of bread.
  • Top the cheese with the ham slices followed by the second amount of cheese, and the second piece of bread.
  • Top the sandwich with more bechamél and the remaining cheese.
  • Bake the sandwiches in a 400°f oven for ten minutes, then under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is browned.
  • Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add in the oil and butter. Once the butter is melted and starts to foam add in the two eggs. Cook the eggs sunny side up basting the whites to cook.
  • Put the eggs on the sandwiches and serve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


You will be hardpressed to find a sandwich that tastes better and is more satisfying than this one. Yes, you will need triple bypass surgery after eating it, especially if you have it around the same time as last week’s grilled cheese as I did. But, a life without this sandwich is no life at all. You can quote me on that.

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Country Pâté. Your Guide To Fancy Meatloaf.

Country Pâté. Your Guide To Fancy Meatloaf.

Today we are going to take a look at pâté. Specifically, we are going to look at country pâté and how to make it at home. Before you jump away from this post because you are convinced that you hate pâté at least let me explain exactly what I’m talking about.

First of all, and most importantly, let’s clear up what exactly pâté is. The easiest way to think about it is as a kind of fancy meatloaf. Really, it’s fancy only in perception. Now, there are different kinds of pâté. Some are smooth like butter, some are smooth but firm, and some like the country pâté we are going to be looking at today are more coarse in texture. There are some pâtés that are loaded with expensive ingredients like truffles or foie gras. But, at the heart of it, pâté is really just a cheap and easy way to use up scraps of meat.

Are all pâtés made of liver?

A misconception about pâté is that it is always made from liver. There are liver pâtés, and the one I am talking about today does have a little bit of liver in it, but it doesn’t have to. It is by no means made exclusively of the liver. Our pâté is mostly ground pork with a little bit of liver for flavour and texture. Other than that there are some herbs and spices, onions and garlic, egg, and a bit of flour (gluten-free for me). That’s it. Nothing scary or fancy.

Why make pâté at home?

Okay, now that you hopefully have a bit of a better understanding of what pâté is, you may be wondering why you should make it at home. Well, the simple answer is that it is delicious. Really, a well-made pâté is a very special thing. It’s great for a light breakfast or lunch with pickled eggs, gherkins, crackers, mustard, a bit of cheese, and grapes or apple. It is terrific to start a dinner party, take to a pot luck, or just serve with cocktails if you have guests coming over. It also freezes really well so you can make a batch like the one I’m going to describe below, slice it, and freeze it, then just pull out pieces when you want them. That is why you should make it at home.

But don’t you need special equipment?

Do you need special equipment? Nope. To be fair, I have a meat grinder that I use. And though I didn’t use it for this pâté I do have a small terrine or pâté dish. However, if you buy pre-ground pork, coarse if you can get it, the rest can be done by hand or in a food processor. As for baking, that can be done in any kind of loaf pan.

Isn’t it difficult?

Is it difficult to make pâté? It takes about the same level of skill to make a meatloaf or meatballs. If you can do that, you can do this. I will say that smooth pâtés are more involved and do require more skill.

Okay, let’s take a look.


Our country pâté starts with pork. I’m using pork shoulder which was recently on sale at the grocery store. You may see it labelled as picnic roast. Pork shoulder is what is generally used to make sausage and pâté because it has the perfect ratio of fat to meat. Fat is important in these types of things because without it the final product has a gritty, dry texture which is not enjoyable at all. If you are using pre-ground pork do not buy lean. Go for medium or regular if you can. All told we want 2 lbs of ground pork.

Meat Grinder

If you are using a meat grinder, hopefully, it is better than the KitchenAid one that I have. Cut the meat into strips and put it in the freezer it for about 30 minutes. The meat shouldn’t be frozen, but very cold and slightly firm. This will make the grinding easier on your grinder and most importantly will keep the meat cold throughout the grinding process.

It is also generally recommended that you set the bowl the meat is being ground into over a bowl of ice to make sure it stays cold. However, because I generally grind such small amounts of meat I don’t find that step that crucial. Usually, after grinding I will pop the meat back in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to cool it back down. If you are doing large batches, definitely grind into a bowl set over ice. Not only does it keep the meat out of the temperature danger zone, but it also allows for a better mixture keeping the fat bound to the protein so you don’t get a lot of fat separation when cooking.

Seasoning the meat

A good pâté is a well-seasoned one. It is important to remember that pâté is served cold. What that means is that you have to use more salt than you would if you were serving it hot. The reason for this is because of the way your taste buds interact with salt when they are cold and because the cold fat from the pâté will coat your tongue. For the 2 lbs of pork we are using, we will also be using 2 tbsp of coarse kosher salt. It is important to use either kosher or sea salt for this. DO NOT USE TABLE SALT. And, make sure that the salt is coarse not finely ground.

Along with the salt, there have to be some other flavours in the mix. For this I used 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, 2 tsp dried sage, 2-3 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 medium white onion, minced or puréed, 1 tsp black pepper, 4 oz pork or chicken liver, and 1 tsp pâté spice (recipe below).

I should say that I put the liver, onions, and garlic, right through my meat grinder. If you don’t have a meat grinder (why would you?) these items can be pulsed in a food processor or cut as small as possible by hand. I will tell you that hand chopping the liver can be a messy affair.

Pâté Spice

This is a baisc all purpose pâté spice blend
Total Time: 2 minutes
Course: Snack
Cuisine: French
Keyword: pâté, spice blend
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1 tsp grams ground cloves
  • 1 tsp grams ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp grams ground ginger
  • 1 tsp grams ground coriander
  • 2 tsp grams ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grams white pepper


  • Mix all ingredients together.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

The recipe above for Pâté Spice is taken from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. In fact, the Country Pâté recipe I am sharing here is adapted from the version in this book as well. Click here to find the book on Amazon. (It makes a really great gift for any foodies on your Christmas list)

In a separate bowl from the meat, we mix together 2 eggs, 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (gluten-free for me), 2 tbsp brandy or port, and 1/2 cup whipping cream. This gets whisked together then mixed into the meat and spices.

Beat the meat

At this point, all of the ingredients for the country pâté are mixed together but there is one very important step that has to be completed before the mixture can be put in the dish and baked. The meat has to be beaten. This doesn’t take long and it can be done in the bowl of a mixer, with a wooden spoon, or by hand. The idea is that you want to vigorously beat the meat until it gets a tacky texture and appearance. This will help bind the pâté together and yield one solid, well-structured mass. I did this with a wooden spoon in about two minutes.

Baking the Country Pâté

To bake the pâté first line a loaf pan, just a regular bread pan, with plastic wrap. I know this seems odd because it is going in the oven but it is on a low enough temperature that it will be fine. Now put the mixture in the lined loaf pan patting down as you go to fill any voids. Do your best to make sure there are no air pockets or anything like that. Cover the top of the pâté with plastic wrap and then tin foil. Firmly tap the loaf pan on your counter a few times to settle the meat mixture.

Water Bath

In order to ensure that the pâté cooks evenly and that the sides don’t brown we need to cook it in a water bath. This is easy enough. Put a damp towel in the middle of a high-sided roasting pan and put the loaf pan in on top of it. The towel will prevent the loaf pan from sliding around when moving from the oven. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the loaf pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven and bake the pâté on 300°F until a thermometer inserted into the center reaches 160°f. In my oven (which may not be working right) this took about 2 hours. It may take slightly less in your oven. It is important not to overcook this as it will become gritty and dry.

Once it’s cooked

Once the country pâté is cooked, leave it covered, remove it from the water bath, and place it on a cooling wrack. Cool at room temperature for about an hour before putting it in the fridge.

You never want to cut into a pâté right away. The flavours take time to develop. So, at the very least leave it until the next day. Ideally, leave it for two to three days before you cut into it.


One final step that is very important is to weight the pâté. To do this simply put a loaf pan on top of the loaf pan containing the pâté and fill it with cans of soup or cans of beans, anything kind of heavy. Leave this weight on overnight in the fridge.

The idea is that the weight is going to help compress the pâté giving it a consistent texture.

As a side note, I wasn’t expecting my pâté to take as long as it did. I actually ran out of time and had to get my wife to take it out of the oven, cool it, and put it in the fridge but I forgot to ask her to weight it. By the time I got home, it was already cool so, mine isn’t the exact density I would prefer, but it is still delicious.


Okay, it’s been three days since you cooked your pâté and put it in the fridge. Now, it’s time to unmold and eat it! All you have to do is take the foil and plastic off the top, carefully lift the pâté out of the loaf pan and wipe away an exterior fat and gelatin. Then slice it up and serve it with crackers, mustard, and pickles.

As I said in the intro, this freezes really well. It is best to cut it into portions and vacuum seal it, but portions tightly wrapped in plastic then put in freezer bags will do the trick as well.


There are two things that I hope you take away from this. First of all, country pâté isn’t this scary or fancy thing. It is pretty much just a meatloaf that you eat cold. Secondly, pâté isn’t hard to make. Again, it is just a meatloaf that you eat cold.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it. If you did like it please share it with someone you think will like it too. And remember to join the mailing list so you never miss a post.

Thanks for reading!

Country Pâté

A classic country pâté that you will make over and over again.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: French
Keyword: appetizers, cooking techniques, French Food, party food, pâté, snacks
Servings: 12 people
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 2 tbsp of coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp pâté spice
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 medium white onion minced or puréed
  • 4 oz pork or chicken liver
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour gluten-free for me
  • 2 tbsp brandy or port
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream


  • Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Using a food processor pulse the liver, onion, and garlic until puréed then add to the pork mixture.
  • In a separate bowl combine the eggs, flour, milk, and brandy and mix well.
  • Pour the milk and egg mixture over the meat and mix.
  • Using either a mixer or a wooden spoon beat the meat mixture for 2-3 minutes or until it develops a tacky appearance.
  • Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and put the meat mixture in it making sure to press it down to fill any voids.
  • Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and foil.
  • Firmly tap the loaf pan on the counter a few times to settle the meat mixture.
  • Put a damp towel in the bottom of a high-sided roasting pan and put the loaf pan in on top of it.
  • Fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the loaf pan.
  • Bake the pâté on 300°f for between 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until a thermometer inserted into the center reaches a temperature of 160°F.
  • Remove the loaf pan from the water bath while keeping it covered.
  • Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and cool for 1 hour before putting in the fridge.
  • While the pâté is cooling in the loaf pan weight it by placing another loaf pan on top and filling it with cans of soup or vegetables. Leave this weight on overnight.
  • Let the pâté rest in the fridge for 2-3 days before serving.
  • Remove the pâté from the loaf pan, rub off any exterior fat or gelatin and slice.
  • Serve with crackers, mustard, and pickles.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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