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Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

My husband and I have breakfast nearly every weekend at La Dijonaise in Culver City. He never orders anything except the croque-madame. It's that good! Sarah Alexander Los Angeles Dear Sarah: La Dijonaise sandwiches bechamel and ham between two slices ... Read more

Total time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time for the bechamel | Serves 6

Bechamel sauce

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg

Step 1In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat just until bubbles appear around the edge. Reduce the heat and keep the milk warm over very low heat.

Step 2Meanwhile, in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. When it bubbles, whisk in the flour and continue to cook until the mixture forms a golden roux, 3 to 4 minutes.

Step 3Whisking constantly, add the warm milk in a steady stream. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with one-half teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper, along with the nutmeg, or to taste. Remove from heat and set aside until cooled. This makes about 2 cups sauce.

Sandwich assembly

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 12 slices sandwich bread
  • 12 slices ham
  • Prepared bechamel sauce
  • 6 slices Swiss cheese, diced
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 eggs, fried sunny side up

Step 1Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2Butter 6 slices of bread. Top each slice of bread with 2 slices of ham, then divide the bechamel sauce evenly between the sandwiches, spreading it over the ham. Top each of the sandwiches with a second slice of bread.

Step 3In a small bowl, toss together the diced Swiss cheese and the mozzarella. Season the mixture with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper, or to taste.

Step 4Divide the cheese mixture evenly between the sandwiches, mounding it on top of each sandwich.

Step 5Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and bake until the cheese is melted, 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the oven. This may need to be done in more than 1 batch.

Step 6Top each sandwich with a fried egg and serve immediately.

Note: Adapted from La Dijonaise Cafe et Boulangerie in Culver City. The restaurant uses bread from a local bakery and recommends pullman-type bread for the sandwiches.


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