What do you get when you combine crisp, buttery bread with salty ham and spicy mustard and top with stringy cheese and an ooey, gooey fried egg? Pure happiness. A million thank-yous to our fabulous foodie friend and Master Chef finalist, Giovanna Ryan, for dishing up another decadent brekkie for us to drool over, you truly have elevated the humble toastie to whole new heights!
Over to Giovanna...
This is a super indulgent brunch that is actually really easy to make for a crowd. You don’t have to cook the ham yourself if you can’t be bothered but it is much tastier and cheaper than buying it ready-made. Ham stock also makes a sensational soup base so don’t throw it away!
Ingredients (for 4 croques):
For the ham:
- 1 ham hock
- 2 bay leaves
- Teaspoon black peppercorns
- Bunch parsley, stalks and all
- 1 celery stick
- 1 shallot, halved
- 2 cloves garlic, squashed with the flat of a knife
For the sandwich:
- 8 slices good quality sourdough
- 100g butter, plus extra for the toast
- 200ml milk
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 160g gruyere, grated
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- A little grated nutmeg
- 4 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 180C. To cook the ham, place all the ingredients, plus water to cover everything in a heavy, oven-proof pan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to the boil on the hob then place in the oven for at least 2 hours, until the ham is very soft and flakes when prodded with a fork. Take the ham out of the liquid to cool.
Once cooled, shred enough ham for your sandwich and stir in the chopped parsley and wholegrain mustard. Taste for seasoning and add black pepper. You almost definitely won’t need any salt.
To make the bechemel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan then stir in the flour to make a paste. Gradually whisk in the milk a little at a time until smooth and relatively thick. Take off the heat and stir in half the cheese, the nutmeg to taste and a grind of salt and pepper.
Pre-heat the grill to 220C and toast one side of each slice of bread. Remove from the oven then spread the untoasted sides with mustard. Over half of the slices, pile on a handful of shredded ham then a generous sprinkling of gruyere. Pop back under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.
Top with the rest of the bread, then pour over the béchamel. Grill for about 5 minutes, until golden and bubbling.
Meanwhile, fry the eggs to your liking.
Top each croque with a fried egg and serve immediately.
While best eaten on a bustling pavement outside a Parisian cafe, devouring it in your comfies with a bunch of friends is also a pretty great way to start your weekend. Do send us a pic of you enjoying this breakfast treat, we love hearing from you.