Croque Monsieur with Poached Eggs

Croque monsieur with poached eggs

Soooo, I know it’s January 7th, and I should be eating kale and tofu and sipping on homemade kombucha, and I probably should not be interrupting your New Years’-resolution-dining regimen with visions of béchamel-slicked toast layered with black forest ham, gruyère cheese, and oozing poached eggs, but, um, well, I’m sorry?

You see, the thing is that it has been bitter cold here and with every degree below zero that the temperature falls, my motivation to enter the outdoors falls even further, which has forced me to get creative at the dinner hour. What started as an answer to what to serve for dinner? with slim pickings in the fridge has evolved into a favorite meal, something I find myself craving every few days, something I don’t foresee eliminating from the dinner rotation any time soon.

And really, while this open-faced sandwich looks/sounds a bit decadent, it’s not so bad. This is one of those things where a little of everything — a tablespoon of béchamel, a slice of ham, a handful of cheese — goes a long way. A sprinkling of fresh thyme right out of the oven is essential, and while there is something about ham and gruyère that can’t be beat, this of course could be made vegetarian with sautéed greens or braised leeks or roasted endive. Served with a salad of wintry greens, shaved fennel, and lots of fresh dill tossed in a clementine dressing, this meal feels surprisingly light.

Yes. I just made a case for croque monsieur one week into the New Year. Thank you for listening.

bechamel ingredients

croque monsieur ingredients

ready for the broiler


poached eggs

croque monsieur topped with poached eggs

croque monsieur

breaking into the poached eggs

Croque Monsieur with Poached Eggs

Bechamel recipe adapted from Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book


  • good bread, cut into thick slices
  • béchamel (recipe below)
  • 3 to 4 slices good ham (figure 1 to 2 per sandwich)
  • grated gruyère, Comté or Swiss cheese
  • fresh thyme leaves

    for the béchamel:
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 medium onion (about 2 to 4 T. finely chopped)
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 bayleaf

    for the poached eggs:
  • 2 eggs (count on 1 egg per sandwich)
  • splash of white vinegar


  1. First, prepare pot for eggs and make the béchamel. For the eggs: Fill a shallow saucepan with two to three inches water and bring to a simmer. For the béchamel: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook about 5 to 7 minutes or until the onion is soft but has not begun to color. Turn the heat to very low, add the flour, and stir to combine it with the onion and butter. Continue to cook over low heat until the flour is absorbed, stirring constantly so that it doesn’t brown, about 2 minutes or so. Slowly stir in the milk. Drop in the bay leaf.
  2. Over medium to medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning on the bottom of the pan. Taste and cook longer if the taste of raw flour is still detectable. The mixture should be thick, but if it’s too thick and becoming difficult to stir, you’ll need to whisk in a little more milk. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Place the slices of bread on a rack on a sheet pan (or a broiling pan) and broil them about a minute on each side. Remove pan from the oven.
  4. Spread about 1 tablespoon of béchamel over each slice of bread. Top with 1 to 2 slices of ham. Top with grated cheese to taste. Set aside.
  5. Crack each egg into a small bowl or ramekin. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of vinegar into the pot of simmering shallow water. Adjust the heat so that the water is barely simmering — get the water to a simmer, then turn it down so you don't see any bubbles. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a whirlpool in the water, then drop one egg into the center of the whirlpool. Repeat with other egg. Adjust the heat to keep the water just below a simmer. Set the timer for 3 minutes.
  6. When the eggs have cooked for 3 minutes, place croque monsieurs under the broiler and cook until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme.
  7. Meanwhile, using a slotted spoon, lift one egg up from the water and shake it. The yolk should jiggle a little bit, but shouldn't look too loose. You might have to cook the eggs for a minute longer. Note: Knowing when poached eggs are done is just a matter of practice and preference — personally I don't like the yolk to taste raw, but I still like it runny, and for this consistency, I usually have to cook the eggs for about 4 to 5 minutes. When the eggs look cooked to your liking, remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  8. Top each sandwich with a poached egg. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.

clementine dressing

Clementine Salad Dressing:

Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of finely minced shallots in a small bowl. Season with a pinch of kosher salt. Juice three clementines over the shallots and let macerate for 15 minutes. Slowly whisk in at least 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Taste, adding more olive oil if necessary and a tablespoon or so of white balsamic vinegar if you need a little more bite.

Simple winter salad: Greens, shaved fennel, sliced endive, and lots of chopped fresh herbs: dill, mint, chives — whatever you like best.

A few more detoxing ideas can be found here.

shallots and clementines




  1. says

    but, but, but… you POACHED the egg! You did great! 😉

    interesting that you posted about Le Croque, I just made that for our dinner a few evenings ago, but went the fried egg route and did not even feel guilty!

    beautiful photos, as usual…

    • says

      haha, ok, I don’t feel so bad now :) I am on a serious croque kick — Ben said it might be his favorite thing ever. There is something about all of those flavors together, and the runny yolk just kind of gilds the lily…sooo good.

    • says

      OK, really my husband should be responding to all questions about poached eggs — he is the true master — but what I have learned from him is to keep the water just below a simmer — the water should not even be boiling — and to always use a splash of vinegar and to make a little whirlpool with your spoon to help keep the egg in one spot. There are instructions in the recipe, but the ultimate key is practice: the more you do it; the better you will be. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll be able to tell when the eggs are done by jiggling the spoon. Hope that helps!

  2. says

    Just not fair, i’m trying to trim down the calories and then you do this to us. Absolutely beautiful. Love these photos. I don’t know if i would have the patience to poach the eggs, wonderful idea.

    • says

      Haha, I know, Andris…it’s so hard, especially for us carb lovers. Also, my mother ordered a Steel, and it arrived today. She is making pizza tonight and so excited about it! Happy 2014!

  3. says

    This sandwich is speaking to me! You made it look so mouth-watering and inviting, I could just dive in. YES to poached eggs, on anything and everything! I’m also really into your clementine dressing — sounds delicious! I don’t want to brag, but I actually lost weight over the holidays. My secret? Catch a nasty cold/flu virus the day after Christmas and stay on the couch all the way through New Year’s. My appetite is back though and I am hungry for THIS!

    ps — love the new look of the site and your recipe plug-in. Great improvements :)

    • says

      Thanks, Sophie. I have been trying to make improvements here and there, so I’m happy to see your approval. I should have done the recipe plugin ages ago.

      And you poor thing! So sorry to hear about your cold. That is the worst. I’ve yet to be struck this season, but it will happen…dreading it. So glad you have your appetite back. You need this in your belly!

  4. Trish says

    No apologies needed. I love that you did this one week into the new year! That sandwich looks so delicious! I just told my husband the other day that you just can’t beat the simplicity of egg yolk puddling onto a piece of great bread. But then when you add ham, gruyere and bechamel…oh my goodness!! I cannot wait to make this!!!

    • says

      Trish, hieee, and yes, I still remember sitting at the breakfast table as a child wiping a plate of fried eggs clean with bread…there seriously isn’t anything better. Ham and gruyère of course are a plus :)

  5. Julia says

    I like my eggs the same level of “done-ness” as you. I just want to verify however- at the 4-5 minute mark the egg white will not be runny? I am looking for “Eggs of Medium” style. I’ve never poached an egg which is why I ask.

    BTW, you seriously need a “donate” button or a paid membership of some sorts. You do some amazing work and both my family and I have benefited from it more than I can put to words! Thanks so much for another great blog!

    • says

      Julia, you are too kind! I’m so happy you are enjoying the blog. Just keep reading…that’s all I can ask for :)

      OK, as for doneness, it really is a matter of practice. After about 4 minutes, I lift up the egg with a slotted spoon and give it a shake. I usually can tell by how the white and the yolk under the white moves if it is done or not. I do not like a runny white, and I don’t like the yolk to be too too runny either — when it oozes out, I want it to be on the thicker side. If you keep your water at the level just below simmering, I think it will take you about 5 minutes, but this will depend on your pan and how many eggs you are cooking at one time, so I don’t want to say for sure. Also, the eggs do continue to cook a little bit once they are out of the water, but this isn’t a huge factor because you don’t want the eggs resting for too long. Hope that helps!

  6. Katie says

    This looks delicious. I haven’t made a croque in a good long while. I like to make mine with turkey instead of ham and put a bit of mustard and paprika in the bechamel. Divine! However, I think by putting the egg on top you actually make it a croque madam! Either way it’s yummy and I may have to send my husband forth to the store to pick up the necessities thanks to your inspiration! Happy eating!

  7. Peg says

    Had this a couple of years ago in France. It was one of the best things I have ever eaten. I’m a mediocre cook so I doubt I’ll make it, but am pinning the recipe in case I get really brave.

  8. Marcia says

    Alexandra, I remember reading one of your posts where you mentioned the Temecula Olive Oil Company. It stuck out in my mind because I recently started a job that is based in Temecula. I’ll be there next week on business (happy to get out of the NYC cold!) and plan on going. Can you please give me recommendations on some of your favorites?
    Love your blog – love your recipes – love your photographs! Thanks so much! -Marcia

    • says

      So fun! And I am so jealous! Old Town Temecula is a really fun little place. OK, favorites of the olive oils include basil (for salads), blood orange (for salads and anything really), and jalapeno (great for cooking eggs!). Their regular, unflavored kind — I forget their name for it — is also always really good. They will let you sample anything, so don’t be shy. I also haven’t been in ages, so they might have some new flavors. If you can get your hands on a bottle of their truffle oil, that is a treat, too. The best thing about the company is that they make their oils by crushing the flavorings in with the olives during the pressing as opposed to heating the oil and infusing it. It is such a great company/place. I miss them. You’re inspiring me to order a few bottles. Have a wonderful trip! Are you going to be able to get down to La Jolla or San Diego at all?

  9. Inge says

    It’s after midnight and I’m STARVING now! I so want to eat this, NOW!
    Thank you for your dedication to this blog, I have made soooooo many of your dishes ALL to rave reviews…. and many many asking for “my” recipe, which I do always confess, that it is not mine, but my favorite food bloggers recipe!

    Keep up the awesome work, I look forward to your beautiful work, always…. Happy 2014, Happy cooking! :)

    (by the way, the peasant bread is EVERYONE’s favorite, I make it continuously throughout the winter…. as well as the rosemary shortbread (oh groan, oh yum), I did add some chopped currants in a batch for festive feel, oh so good…. as well as the “easiest chicken you’ll ever make”…. oh and the now cravings of Burrata {thanks a lot for THAT, LOL}…. and the banana bread, so simple, so yummy.. geez, I’m rambling!!! ) Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  10. Renee Wiley says

    I am looking for the recipe for the Peasant Bread…can you email it to me or email the link to me……Than you, I am looking forward to making the brussel sprout salad also

  11. miranda says

    It’s only a croque monsieur til you add the egg. The egg makes it a croque madame ( not sure if that’s spelled properly). Looks delicious though.

  12. izzydizzy says

    I’m sure that this will sound pretentious and that someone else’s has already said it, but a croque monsieur is actually just a ham and grilled cheese, what you made is a croque madame, because of the egg.

  13. AmyRuth says

    having not read through your plethora of comments I may be asking a question already posed …. but how do YOU get the poached egg off the paper towel? spatuala? or do you simply invert it from the paper towel? I can see me destroying the tender loving care with a spatula

  14. Nancy J. (Lady Nann) says

    Ally I’m going to serve for this breakfast to a cooking friend who will be staying with us. We’re meeting tomorrow night to take a pasta making class at Sur La Table. Then she is staying overnight with us. So this is breakfast Fri. am. This recipe looks FABULOUS and I want to practice my poaching skills. This would run at LEAST $25 in NYC as that is exactly what we paid when there at a restaurant last October for a very similar thing. Your Croque Monsieur with Poached Eggs is an absolute winner in my book. I’m going to serve them in individual 6 inch cast iron skillets with a fuzzy plaid blanket as the table cloth for a ‘cabin’ feel. This is going to be so much delicious fun. THANKYOU for such a marvelous recipe!!

    • says

      So fun, Nancy! I wish I could take that pasta-making class with you. Sounds like a ball. How fun that a friend is flying in for the weekend, too?! Love your idea of serving them in cast iron skillets. So much fun. If you feel like getting ahead, you can make the bechamel today, which will save you a little bit of time tomorrow morning. Just a thought…maybe you’ve already done it. Have a wonderful cooking weekend!

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