“Croque-Madame” Brunch Gratin with Asparagus & Prosciutto from Grace-Marie’s Kitchen

by Lynne on April 15, 2014

Post image for “Croque-Madame” Brunch Gratin with Asparagus & Prosciutto from Grace-Marie’s Kitchen

“Croque-Madame” Brunch Gratin was the entrée recipe for the Easter Family Brunch class at Grace-Marie’s Kitchen at Bristol Farms in Manhattan Beach last week. I have to say, this Gratin was one of the best things I have eaten recently, with buttery crusted bread topped with Swiss cheese, prosciutto, asparagus, béchamel and a beautiful egg on top. The béchamel was amazing, flavored with Worcestershire, dry sherry, thyme and nutmeg. This is one of those dishes where the first bite makes you say to yourself, Oh wow! And each successive bite has you going, Mmmm.

A French Croque-Monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with béchamel on top and it first appeared on Parisian café menus around 1910. The name is based on the verb croquer (“to crunch”) and the word monsieur (“mister”). A croquet-monsieur served with a fried or poached egg on top, which appeared around 1960, is known as a Croquet-Madame, because the egg resembles an old fashioned hat. So you can see that our gratin uses all the sandwich ingredients, just arranged in a different way. Well, with some asparagus added to make it even more ravishing.

The menu also included Roasted Shrimp & Pineapple Salad, Easter Banana Muffins and Springtime Apricot Cake, all of which would be perfect for your Easter brunch table.

Croque-Madame Brunch Gratin 2

The class version of our gratin was made in small pie plates, with the grilled bread covered with Swiss cheese, prosciutto and asparagus, with the béchamel ladled over all.

Croque-Madame Brunch Gratin 3

On these smaller versions, Grace-Marie tried to get the egg yolk to nest on top, but they refused, and thus settled on the side. This in no way detracted from the end result.

Croque-Madame Brunch Gratin 4

Here you can see how the gratins looked when they came out of the oven. Yum. In the recipe below, Grace-Marie makes the gratin in a 9×13” casserole, from which you would be scooping out portions with a large spoon or spatula. Just be sure to distribute the eggs evenly. If they won’t stay on top, next to is perfectly ok.

Croque-Madame Brunch Gratin 5

Grace-Marie decided to build an extra special gratin for me to photograph. She started with extra cheese, more asparagus and a large tangle of prosciutto. She set the gratin dish in an oven-proof sauté pan for ease of putting in and taking out of the oven.

Croque-Madame Brunch Gratin 6

The béchamel was poured over the top and a nest was made in the middle. The yolk stayed on top and we all cheered. Yea! When it came out of the oven, there was that melted cheese and the béchamel and egg white melded with the asparagus and prosciutto. Amazing!

Croque-Madame Brunch Gratin 7

For additional recipes from Grace-Marie’s Kitchen, look under Categories in the right-hand column.

Grace-Marie Johnston

Grace-Marie Johnston

For more information about the new schedule of cooking classes, visit Grace-Marie online at Bristol Farms or email her at gmj@bristolfarms.com.

Print Recipe Print Recipe

“Croque-Madame” Brunch Gratin

Serves 8

Béchamel Sauce
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour

3 cups whole milk
¼ cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, removed from stems
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
To season: kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper

1. Warm butter in Dutch-oven style saucepan over medium heat until melted. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring, until mixture turns beige (20+ seconds).

2. Whisk in milk in slow steady stream until blended. Continue whisking and cook over low-medium flame until warmed through and small bubbles appear around edge of pan.

3. Quickly, whisk in sherry, Worcestershire, thyme, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook for another minute until warmed, and set aside covered to prevent a skin from forming.

4. Sauce can be made in advance, cooled, stored in refrigeration and reheated over a low flame.

Asparagus
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch long portions
To season: kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper

1. Warm oil in large skillet over medium flame. Add asparagus, salt and pepper. Sauté until it begins to soften to crisp-tender (2 minutes). Set aside in pan.

Gratin
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 slices French Country Bread, with crusts, cut into 1-inch thick rounds
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard (any variety)

2 cups Swiss or Gruyere Cheese, thin slices
8 ounces Prosciutto Ham (or any favorite ham), thinly sliced

8 jumbo eggs, room temperature
To season: Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat 9”x13” casserole generously with melted butter. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet pan.

2. Arrange bread slices into casserole. Brush tops with butter and oven toast for 10 minutes.

3. Lightly brush each toast top with mustard. Layer cheese over top followed by asparagus, prosciutto and a ladle of sauce over each. Bake for another 10 minutes.

4. Remove from oven. Create an indentation into top of each portion with a spoon. Crack one egg into indentation of each (don’t worry if some of it runs out). Season with salt and pepper. Bake until egg is set (5+ minutes).

Serve
Carefully remove each portion and serve warm.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Coco in the Kitchen April 16, 2014 at 1:20 pm

What a gorgeous presentation!
This would be perfect for Mother’s Day. YUM

Cathy | She Paused 4 Thought April 16, 2014 at 8:47 pm

OMG! Béchamel flavored with Worcestershire, dry sherry, thyme and nutmeg sounds like a marriage made in heaven. The presentation was divine. Grace-Marie sure knows how to rock the “Croque-Madame”!

Adri April 17, 2014 at 7:49 am

I’d say this presentation is darn ravishing! What a delight. Thank you for sharing this recipe. My husband will absolutely flip for this, and it is just in time for Easter.

sippitysup April 22, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Croque-Madame is a favorite sandwich of mine but as a gratin it is over the moon! GREG

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