This Croque Madame eschews a traditional béchamel sauce topping for
the simple reason that, given the choice between taking time to cook delicious, creamy spinach and a boring, bland sauce, spinach wins every time. I’ve cheated by using crème fraîche, but you can leave it out and add a little mustard and nutmeg to the cheese as a final flourish before grilling.
You Will Need
Start by making the creamy spinach. Put the spinach leaves in a small saucepan to wilt over a low heat, then place in a sieve and drain away all the excess liquid, pressing it with a spoon. Heat the butter in the same saucepan over a medium heat until foaming, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until it becomes translucent and turns lightly golden. Stir in
the crème fraîche, then season with a grating
or two of nutmeg. Fold in the drained spinach, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in a frying pan or skillet over a high heat until foaming. Add the unbuttered slice of bread to the pan and smear the creamy spinach over it, then add about half of the grated cheese. Top with the buttered slice of bread (butter-side up), then, when the rst slice is golden brown and crisp on the bottom, turn the whole thing over carefully and repeat the frying on the other side. Preheat the grill to medium, place the Croque Madame on a baking sheet or in a roasting dish, top with more cheese, the crème fraîche and mustard and grill until bubbling and slightly caramelised. Fry the egg in some butter in a small skillet or frying pan, place it on the Croque Madame and eat immediately.
Variation: Add a slice of good-quality ham or smoked salmon with the spinach for extra avour and protein.