This fabulous recipe is a collaboration between Ricardo Nava, head chef at Cru Palma Ceia, and Jasmine Funk, head chef at the new Cru Westshore in the Westshore Marina District.
Cru Cellars’ Croque Madame
16 ounces half-and-half
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cardamon
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon ground clove
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 ounces unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons flour
8 slices thick lemon brioche bread
12 ounces bacon, cooked and diced
12 ounces spicy capocollo, cooked and diced
12 ounces grated Gruyere cheese, divided
4 ounces Grana Padano (aged Parmesan alternative)
Preheat the broiler.
To make the bechamel sauce: In a mixing bowl, combine half-and-half, nutmeg, cardamon, mustard, clove and salt and pepper. Once mixed, set aside. In a small saucepan, melt 1 ounce butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until you smell the flour and butter cooking, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not allow it to brown. Add the half-and-half mixture and bring to a boil, whisking well to incorporate the roux. Once the mixture is combined evenly, stir occasionally until the mixture thickens to a soup consistency, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Arrange 4 slices of the bread on a flat surface. Top each with bacon and capocollo. Mix together half of the Gruyere cheese and the bechamel sauce. Taste for seasoning. Spread some of the sauce over the top, then top with another slice of bread.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet/pan and, when hot, add half of the remaining butter. Add 2 of the sandwiches and brown on one side, 2 minutes. Turn on the other side and brown 2 more minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining butter and sandwiches. Spread the remaining bechamel on top of the sandwiches and top with the other half of the Gruyere cheese.
Wipe away any crumbs from the cast-iron skillet/pan and spray with nonstick spray. Crack 4 eggs into the skillet, leaving a little room between each. (Alternatively, fry 2 at a time.) While the eggs are frying, place the sandwiches under the broiler and broil until the top becomes golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Season the eggs with salt and top each sandwich with a fried egg.
Finish with grated Grana Padano and enjoy immediately.
Makes 4 servings.