A baked toast cup filled with ham, egg and topped with a simple cheese sauce. A muffin tin version of Croque Madame, the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich (courtesy of the French). I can’t think of a better way to use up leftover Christmas ham! Don’t let the fancy name scare you – it’s super simple to make.
When I think of Christmas leftovers, the first thing that comes to mind is ham. Do you find that you always have more leftover ham than anything else? Year after year, my mother packs up Christmas leftovers for us to take home and it always includes a big chunk of ham. I try to snaffle extra turkey, gravy and potato which, to be honest, I prefer because I have so many more ideas for ways to use those leftovers than ham. But usually I get caught and scolded like a 8 year old for not sharing with my siblings.
So I get home and find myself making a conscious effort to get through as much ham as possible before having to freeze the remainder. There are the usual suspects – frittatas, ham and egg fry ups, baked casseroles – pretty much anything that I typically use bacon in, I substitute with ham.
My favourite way to use ham is Croque Madame which is essentially a French grilled ham and cheese on steroids because it is topped with béchamel, a thick white sauce. I saw this muffin tin version on Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen show. I really like her show because she puts a new spin on French classics while staying true to tradition. I thought this was a really fun version of Croque Madame that you might enjoy too.
“The béchamel sauce for this is extremely easy to make. Just melted a bit of butter, add flour then whisk milk in until it thickens. Add seasonings and you’re done!”
It’s very simple to make. Cut the crust off large white sandwich bread, use a rolling pin to flatten it out then mould into Texas (large) muffin tins. Place ham in the bottom, crack in an egg then top with béchamel sauce (don’t let the fancy name scare you, it takes 5 minutes to make and is just a bit of melted butter + flour used to thicken milk). Finish with a sprinkle of cheese then bake until the eggs are done to your liking – 18 minutes for runny, 23 minutes for firm.
Today is my last post before Christmas. So I’d like to take this chance to say thank you so much for tuning into RecipeTin Eats! You are the reason I blog and why I love it so much.
I’ll be back with more after the Christmas break….including with a huge worldwide giveaway!! So stay tuned!!
Wishing you and your families a very Merry Christmas! – Nagi
- 1½ tbsp unsalted butter
- 1½ tbsp flour
- 1¼ cups milk (full fat works best, though low fat does work)
- ⅓ cup grated gruyere cheese (or tasty or cheddar), plus extra for sprinkling
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 6 large slices of fresh white bread (Notes 1 and 2)
- 2 tbsp melted butter (salted or unsalted)
- 6 eggs
- 100g / 3 oz leg ham
- Fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Freshly ground nutmeg
- Turn the oven on to 180C/350F.
- Cut the crusts off the bread, then roll out with a rolling pin until flattened.
- Press the bread into Texas muffin tins to form cups. Place into the oven (even if it is still heating up) for 5 minutes, just to dry the bread out a bit (Note 3). Don't let it brown.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the flour and stir until a paste forms.
- Add half the milk and whisk until the sauce thickens - around 1 minute.
- Add the remaining milk, Dijon mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Keep whisking because once the milk heats up, it thickens very quickly. Whisk until the sauce is thick enough to coat the spoon thickly (around 1½ to 2 minutes), around the consistency of tomato ketchup.
- Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken considerably as it cools. Then stir the cheese in.
- Brush the melted butter around the edges of the toast cups (to help them brown nicely).
- Divide the ham between the toast cups, then carefully crack an egg into each.
- Top with Bechamel Cheese Sauce, then sprinkle each with a pinch of grated cheese.
- Bake for 18 minutes (for runny yolks) to 23 minutes (firm yolks). (Note 4)
- Rest for a few minutes, then sprinkle with parsley and a grating of fresh nutmeg.
- Serve immediately.
I tried to make it with ordinary sandwich bread in cupcake / standard muffin tins and found that it overflowed and just made a mess.
However, if you make this using the larger size sandwich bread in Texas muffin tins, then it is the perfect size! The bread slices I used were around 13 x 13 cm (just over 5 x 5"), including the crust.
2. This needs to be made with fresh bread. If it is not fresh, then you can't roll it flat which makes it impossible to mould into the muffin thin.
3. The purpose of popping the bread cups into the oven even while it is coming to temperature is to dry the moulded bread out a bit. This serves 2 purposes: a) helps the cups come out crispy; and b) to reduce the amount the egg and/or cheese sauce is soaked up by the bread (which makes the cups soggy).
4. Remove the toast cups from the oven while the eggs are still a touch underdone (i.e. still looks jiggly) because the egg continues to cook in the residual heat.
5. Because of the Bechamel Cheese Sauce, I find these quite rich and filling. One is usually enough and though I always want more, if I have two I find it is too much.