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Posted by on Feb 28, 2013 in Breads, Breakfast/Brunch, Entree, Featured, Sauces | 30 comments

Deconstructed Croque Madame

Deconstructed Croque Madame

It’s entirely possible that I’ve been watching too many episodes of Chopped or just Food Network shows in general.  Let me explain.

Deconstructed Croque Madame

The other day I went to my favorite local bakery and got two loaves of brioche.  Yes…two.  I love brioche more than any other type of bread and it’s really hard for me to resist. I’ve also had great success baking with it lately.  For example one of my most favorite breakfast dishes of all time is my Banana Split Brioche French Toast Stack.  With that in mind I bought the two loaves but wasn’t sure what I’d do with them.  I had some Tasso ham left over from my Creamy Sunchoke Soup with Tasso and Chèvre Croquettes so I decided I’d make Croque Monsieur sandwiches.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a French sandwich made with ham and gruyere and béchamel (pronounced BAY-sha-mel, a sauce made with butter, flour and cheese).  They turned out really, really good but I still had an entire loaf left and time was running out.  It seems the bread you get fresh from a bakery gets stale quicker than store bought bread and mine was quickly getting stiff.  That’s not a good thing since brioche is best when it’s super soft.  What can I do with stale bread?  Ding, ding!  There’s the lightbulb.  (No, lightbulbs don’t make sounds but the one in my head did.)  Bread pudding is always made with day old bread.  Then it hit me.  A Deconstructed Croque Madame.

Deconstructed Croque Madame

A Croque Madame is just a Croque Monsieur with a fried egg on top.  Here’s where the Food Network came into play.  Normally I’m not one for super fancy foods or things that the average person isn’t familiar with but I couldn’t get calling it deconstructed (which really just means a sandwich or other dish taken apart and prepared differently than the way it’s generally known) out of my head.  I’ve been watching all those shows, especially the competitions where the contestants are given strange foods and they have to make something amazing in a short amount of time with it.  They would totally take ingredients and throw them together and call it deconstructed.  Almost everyone knows what bread pudding is but do we all know what a deconstructed sandwich is?  Probably if you watch the Food Network a lot like I do.  I tossed it around and back and forth and realized I had to call it deconstructed and not bread pudding.  I guess I was just feeling fancy!

Deconstructed Croque Madame

The result?  Better than the sandwich.  Truly.  I’ll never make either the Madame or the Monsieur in sandwich form again.  It was the perfect use of a stale loaf of brioche!  Oh how I love it when a plan comes together!!

Deconstructed Croque Madame

15 minutes

15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 5-6

Deconstructed Croque Madame

A twist on the traditional French sandwich this Deconstructed Croque Madame is just as tasty and much easier to eat.


  • 5 cups cubed day old brioche loaf
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 3/4 cups cooked ham diced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups cream or half and half
  • 1 1/2 cups gruyere, grated
  • 3/4 cup parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, optional
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2-3 eggs


  1. Place cubed bread in the bottom of a medium casserole dish.
  2. Pour milk over the top and set aside.
  3. In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat cook ham until beginning to show a golden brown color. Set aside.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. In a large sauce pan over medium heat melt butter.
  6. Once butter is completely melted add flour all at once and whisk until smooth.
  7. Whisk in heavy cream (or half and half) and bring to a low boil.
  8. Allow to boil for a minute or two until thickened.
  9. Add 2 1/4 cup gruyere and parmesan and stir until smooth. Remove from heat.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of nutmeg if desired.
  11. Top cubed bread with browned ham.
  12. Pour 3/4 of the béchamel (cheese mixture) to the bread and ham and stir to combine.
  13. Taste and top with remaining béchamel if desired.
  14. Place casserole in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until warm throughout and browned on top.
  15. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until hot.
  16. Gently add eggs and cook until the white is done but the yellow is still intact and runny, about 3 minutes.
  17. Remove the casserole from the oven and top with eggs.
  18. Serve immediately.

I had some other ideas, too.  It could be Croque Madame Bread Pudding or Croque Madame Casserole or even Baked Croque Madame.  What would you have chosen?



  1. This looks like a great brunch dish or even dinner with a side salad.

    • Thanks! I knew you’d get it! It’s not like it’s a term that’s hard to understand but not one you hear in everyday cooking.

  2. All of these recipes ROCK.

    • Awe! Drin thank you so much! I can’t wait until you move back!

      • Girl, I am trying to get back to my southern roots. We are trying to sell this house and are dropping the price next month. I will keep you posted. Hugs

        • Awesome! We will have to plan monthly lunches or dinners or something. And come back here and comment when you like things! It makes my day. 🙂

    • Thank you Rosie! It turned out so much better than the sandwich and not nearly as messy!

  3. I noticed you in the instructions I am supposed to whisk in heavy cream,my only problem is heavy cream is not mentioned in the ingredients. Is there anything else that may have been omitted?

    • I listed 2 cups heavy cream or half and half in the ingredient list. It’s the 6th in line. I didn’t say “or half and half” in the instructions but I guess I thought that was implied. Sorry for the confusion!! 🙂

  4. This looks amazing!! I will be making it for my easter brunch this weekend

    • Ah!! That just makes my day. To me brioche is the very best but if you can’t get your hands on a loaf just use day old bread of another sort. Please stop back by and let me know how it turns out?

  5. Just made this for Easter brunch and it came out AMAZING!!! I’m a real hit-or-miss cook and surprisingly this was a real hit. THANKS!

    • I am SO SOOO happy to hear that!!! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I can’t wait to make it again soon. 🙂

  6. I’ve been making almost this exact recipe for years, now – in a pinch, Provolone works pretty well if you don’t have Gruyere. 🙂 One thing my family loves when I make the sandwiches is that I spread the top piece of bread with homemade raspberry preserves; when I make the casserole, I melt about half a cup and drizzle over the casserole before I add the top Bechamel layer and bake. I let the finished casserole sit while I fry the eggs. Another quick drizzle of the melted raspberry preserves goes on each plate; after I cut and plate the servings, I top each one with an egg (as opposed to putting the eggs directly on top of the finished casserole). I used to put the eggs directly on top but found the yolks continued to cook! So delish – and, yes, the quintessential use for day-old brioche!! I’m off to try your Asparagus Asiago tart, now – if great minds thought alike to come up with THIS recipe, I’m betting your others are going to be outstanding; so glad I found your site!

    • I absolutely LOVE the preserve idea! It reminds me of a Monte Cristo sandwich…one of my favorites. Such wonderful feedback and so cool to know you’ve made this before. We MUST compare on other recipes. I bet you have tons I would love as well. Do you have a blog or do you cook for your family?

  7. It’s in the oven now, and doing the eggs separately to put on portions plate. I may be blind, but the recipe calls for more cheese than the instructions use…I am on my iPad did I miss something? Thanks

    • OMG!!! Yes! It’s a type-o. It should say 2 1/4 combining both cheeses. How awful of me. This is my most viewed recipe! I’m so sorry but whoa…thank you so much for pointing it out! Please let me know how you liked it!! I’m seriously praying I didn’t mess you up with my silly error. 🙁

  8. I made this today (sort of). Instead of gruyere, we used several cheeses:
    – three cheese blend
    – sharp cheddar (block)
    – sharp cheddar (shredded)
    – feta
    – parmesan

    We used the same amount (a total of 2 1/4 cups). We also used two types of bread:
    – old hot dog buns (yes, super lame. We didn’t want to use too much of the other bread)
    – herb bread (fresh from the farmer’s market! The main herb was oregano and a bit of basil)

    It’s super delicious and all of us had seconds! Yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

    • So glad you enjoyed it and LOVE how you customized it to fit your family!

  9. In an agreement with my working wife I have to cook a dinner on Friday and Sat.nights. The only successful recepie over the years has been cottage pie which our African maid cooks as I am not a cook. Also we live in the Drakensburg region of South Africa where the range of ingredients available is limited or nonexistent. Any ideas? Also brioche is not available here. What about an ordinary bread? Could I add mince to your recepie and make a dinner.
    If only receipies were available for cooking handicapped husbands like me! Alan.

    • Hi Alan. I think the agreement you made with your wife is perfect!! As far as recipes, there are tons on my site. If you click on the recipes tab you can scroll through categories and choose the type of dish you’d like to make. Several recipes have a list of suggestions for substitutions. You can also search “easy” in the search bar and it will bring up semi-easy recipes. If you have questions or need substitution help on anything you see specifically just comment at the end of that post and I’ll be happy to help.
      As far as this recipe goes you could use really any bread. The more dense the better. Brioche is slightly sweet but really anything would work. Just make sure it’s day old or longer so it holds up to the liquid. I am not at all familiar with mince but this recipe does have ham and eggs so it could easily be a dinner.
      You’re not handicapped! Just inexperienced but you’ll get there. I am super impressed you’re trying. Please let me know how I can help in the future. Good luck!!! 😀

      • Thanks Christy,
        Encouragement goes a long way. Mince is normally ground beef.

  10. Hi Christy! I just wanted to post and let you know this is my favorite recipe! I follow it loosely these days. I use some sort of sweet bread (sweet Hawaiian rolls are great), I substitute cream for extra milk to cut calories, and I vary out my cheeses. Last time I used parmesan, Vermont aged white cheddar, and asiago. This recipe is brilliant and you can vary it so much to try different yummy recipes! It’s a little bit reminiscent of the Kentucky Hot Brown too. Anyways, I always bring it to potlucks and I love to share the recipe with friends. Thanks so much for it!
    Alyssa recently posted..An Open Letter to Men on Dating SitesMy Profile

  11. Instead of cooking the eggs in a pan and adding them to the top, could you crack them on top of the dish before baking? Let them cook into the cheese in the oven like when you add egg to pizza or make shakshouka?

    • I’m so sorry I’m just now replying. I completely let it slip!! I’ve never cooked the eggs that way sounds doable to me! Wish I could be more help.

  12. This looks AMAZING! Breakfast foods are my finances favorite and I’m sure he will love this!! Tomorrow is Christmas and he has to work 7-7 so I’m going to make this for dinner! I couldn’t find brioche bread, but I’m going to use a plain French loaf. I can’t wait to try this!

    Thank you!!

    • I hope you both love it!! Come back and let me know how it went. Merry Christmas!!!


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