I have just had brunch on the brain lately for some reason or another. I dreamt up this rich dish yesterday and couldn't wait until Sunday morning to try it, so I just had to make it for dinner on a plain old Wednesday night.
This playful take on the classic French sandwich was way, way over the top in a good way. It's like this: I want a grilled cheese...dipped in egg...stuffed with spinach...then layered with roasted mushrooms...hmmm, and then topped with more cheese. Oh yeah, and if that weren't enough, I'll have a fried egg on top. Mmmmm...now that'll certainly do.
(I paired this with some blanched asparagus that I sprinkled with just a little salt and pepper. Believe me, there was enough sandwich shrapnel to coat the naked spears.)
Next time you have people over for brunch, you should really try this one. I think I just might guarantee it as an absolute showstopper. It would be great on Sunday morning with a cold glass of champagne, but we enjoyed it with a nice bottle of '09 Baron Des Chartrons Bordeaux. You know, something French to go along with the theme of the evening.
Portobello Mushroom + Spinach Croque Madame with Goat Cheese Bechamel
(Makes two knife-and-fork sandwiches)
4 slices French loaf
a pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup milk (or cream)
sea salt & crakced pepper
1 cup Emmentaler cheese (shredded)
oven-roasted portobello slices
1/2 cup blanched spinach
1 tablespoon butter (Plugra works well.)
1/2 goat cheese bechamel
mixed herbs to garnish (thyme, dill, parsley)
Soak slices of bread in a mixture of 4 beaten eggs, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and milk for about 10 minutes. Divide spinach, cheese, and mushrooms between two slices of bread. Slather the other two slices with mustard. Assemble the sandwiches using a spatula.
Preheat a skillet to medium heat. Melt butter in the skillet and transfer sandwiches to the it. Allow bread to brown on each side and the cheese to melt in the center. (You will know they are done when the center of the sandwich puffs up.) Transfer sandwiches to a cookie sheet and keep them warm in the oven. In the same skillet, fry two eggs until the white is set but the yolk is nice and runny. Remove sandwiches from the oven and place them onto a serving plate. Top each with bechamel sauce, a fried egg, and the chopped herbs.
Goat Cheese Bechamel:
1 1/2 tablespoons butter (Plugra -- again!)
1 shallot (minced)
zest from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
2 ounces goat cheese
Melt butter over medium heat until it stops bubbling. Add the shallot and zest and cook until shallot is translucent. Using a whisk, stir in the flour until no lumps are present. Cook until flour becomes nutty and fragrant -- after about 3 minutes. Add the milk and whisk until mixture thickens. Add the cheese and stir to incorporate. Remove from heat and set aside. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Oven-Roasted Portobello Slices
2 large portobello mushrooms (the thicker the better)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice mushrooms as thinly as possible using a sharp knife. Lay slices in a shingle pattern on an oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for the sandwich.