If, like us, you love bread and adore cheese (especially grilled cheese), then you’ve probably come across the French cafe classics croque-monsieur and croque-madame, but what’s the difference and are they just simply a ham and cheese toastie or Monte Cristo?! Read on dear friends, and all will be explained …
What is Croque-Monsieur?
Simply put, Croque-Monsieur is a ham and cheese sandwich that’s topped with more cheese, lightly seasoned and either grilled, oven baked or pan fried to caramelise the cheese and give it a wonderful crunch – hence the name when translated; Mister Crunch. It’s traditionally made with a sweet, brioche-like bread, boiled ham and either Emmental, Gruyere or Comte cheese. First recorded on a Parisian café menu in 1910, more recently, Bechamel (and even Hollandaise) sauce is sometimes added to give further layers of flavour.
What is Croque-Madam?
Like it’s masculine counterpart, Croque-Madame (Misses Crunch) is a ham and cheese sandwich that’s, again, topped with cheese and grilled, oven baked or pan fried. However, Croque-Madam is served with a fried egg on top. The exact origins of the name aren’t known but it’s widely thought that the egg was believed to resemble an old-fashioned lady’s hat; giving rise to Madame.
There are other several variations on the Croque theme; including, Croque-Provencal (with Tomato), Croque-Tartiflette (with sliced potatoes and Reblochon Cheese) and Croque-Gagnet (with Andouille sausage and Gouda Cheese), to name but three. There’s also a vegetarian version called Croque-Madamoiselle (Miss Crunch) that features just melted cheese and is often served with chives and a salad.
So, there you have it; Mister, Misses and Miss – the entire Croque Family, including some regional relations. Although they’re pretty close to a ham and cheese toastie or a Monte Cristo, they are slightly different in construction and primarily use ingredients native to France.