What’s In A Name

Country of OriginFrance

The Croque Monsieur – translated to ‘Crunch Mister’ (patented superhero name) in English is a baked ham and cheese sandwich that originated in French cafés and bars.

The sandwich first appeared on a Paris café menu in 1910 before it appeared in literature in volume two of Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” in 1918. The Croque Monsieur has a sister variant – the Croque Madame (a.k.a. Croque-à-cheval) – which includes a topping of lightly fried/poached egg.

Our Connection

Où (Where)Pantry Cafe – Dubai, UAE
Quand (When)
February, 2016

By the time we arrived at the Pantry Cafe for breakfast, everyone was starving! We didn’t spend a lot of time looking through the menu before placing our order. While most of us at the table decided to go the usual egg routine, I opted for something more left-field. Wait, did I use that right? What I meant by that was, I chose a dish that one would normally look past on a breakfast menu. Unless you were looking for it, I suppose.

No second guesses as to what that dish was. I suppose it was the description that intrigued me, or perhaps the fact that it was a chance for me to start off the morning on a heavy breakfast, which included french fries!

Either way, the dish was more than I had expected it to be. And by that I mean one of my favourite breakfast dishes and one that I’m glad I could recreate, albeit 3 years later!


Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 40 mins Total Time 50 mins
Servings: 4
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


"Bonjour! Ça va? Voulez-vous manger un baked ham et cheese sandwich? Merci! Oui, juste une Croque, Madame!" 


Bechamel Sauce



  1. Finely chop the red onion and garlic clove

  2. Add a tablespoon of butter to a deep saucepan and turn the heat to a medium. Once the butter melts and reaches a warm simmer, add the chopped onion, garlic, and bay leaf

  3. Sauté the onion, garlic and bay leaf until the onions turn translucent and the smell of raw garlic dissipates

  4. Pour the milk and the double cream into the saucepan and let it simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes until the onion, garlic, and bay leaf infuse into the milk

  5. Once the milk is infused with the vegetables, pass it through a sieve, discarding the chopped vegetables and any other residue

  6. In a separate saucepan, melt the rest of the butter and add the flour to the pan. Mix, on low-medium heat, until a thick yellow paste forms

  7. Pour the infused milk into the butter and flour mixture and stir for 5 minutes on the same heat, until the paste completely dissolves, forming a thick Bechamel. 

  8. Add the nutmeg, pepper, salt, and mustard to the Bechamel and stir until all of the ingredients blend in. Lower the heat to a minimum and let the sauce continue to thicken slowly3

  9. While the bechamel sauce thickens, place the slices of bread in a toaster and toast it to a nice golden brown colour.
  10. Prepare the sandwiches (in order) -
    a. Brown Bread
    b. Dijon Mustard
    c. Bechamel sauce
    d. Grated Emmental and Parmesan cheeses
    e. Three slices of turkey ham
    f. Brown Bread

  11. Pour another layer of Bechamel and sprinkle a handful of grated Emmental cheese over the sandwich
  12. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit)
  13. Place a sheet of grease paper on a baking tray and place the sandwiches next to each other on the tray, leaving sufficient space between them
  14. Place the baking tray in the oven, and bake the sandwich for 15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius, or until the cheese starts to melt and turn a golden brown
  15. While the sandwich bakes in the oven, crack an egg over a small sauté pan and cook the egg sunny-side up for 2-3 minutes per egg on high heat. Repeat the same process for the other eggs2

  16. To Serve (per serving): A freshly baked Croque Monsieur, out of the oven, placed on a plate, topped with a sunny-side up egg and a sprinkle of ground black pepper
  17. Serve the sandwich with a side of Ketchup or Mayonnaise


1. Alternatively, you can use white sandwich bread, sourdough bread, or even a large croissant.

2. The traditional Croque Monsieur does not have an egg on top. 

3. Add more milk and double cream if required, in case the sauce becomes too thick or is too little.

4. Instead of the Emmental cheese, you can add grated Gruyere cheese.

5. Substitute Turkey ham for regular salami (chicken or pork), or even thinly sliced chorizo.

6. For a vegetarian version, substitute the ham for slices of boiled potatoes and tomatoes.

7. You can garnish the sandwich with just a sprinkle of herb seasoning.

8. Top the sandwich with a fried egg/poached egg instead of a sunny-side up egg.

9. If you don't want to toast your bread in a toaster, you can do it in the oven or even on a sauté pan.

10. The prices of the ingredients (table below) are only rough estimates and are subject to change!

11. As certain ingredients are common household items - salt, pepper, oil - you may not be required to purchase them, and so the cost of preparing this dish is lower.

Keywords: Breakfast, Bread, Dairy, Eggs, Ham, Non-Vegetarian

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