Croque Madame Upgrade: Chicken Paillard Croque Madame with Asparagus
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Croque Madame Upgrade: Chicken Paillard Croque Madame with Asparagus

In this riff on a classic, croque madame gets a protein boost by swapping out the bread for chicken breast. I'd make this one for brunch, lunch, or dinner.


  • Salt

  • 1 bunch thin asparagus, trimmed of tough ends

  • 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts—butterflied by cutting across but not through the breast, opened up, and lightly pounded to 1/4 inch thick

  • Black pepper

  • About 1 tsp. herbes de Provence

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

  • 3 tbsp. butter, plus a pat or 2 for the eggs

  • 2 tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. flour

  • 1 ½ cups milk

  • Freshly grated or ground nutmeg

  • White pepper

  • About 1/4 cup Dijon mustard

  • 8 thin slices mild cooked ham

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère

  • 4 large eggs


  • Step 1

    Prepare a large bowl of ice water. In a large skillet, bring a couple of inches of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the asparagus. Cook until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add to the ice water and let cool. Drain and pat dry.

  • Step 2

    Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add 1 tbsp. oil, one turn of the pan. Add 2 pieces of chicken. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 1 tbsp. oil and chicken.

  • Step 3

    In a saucepan, melt 3 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking often, until the flour is absorbed, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk. Cook, whisking often, until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Season the béchamel sauce with salt, nutmeg, and white pepper. Reduce heat to low.

  • Step 4

    Switch on the broiler.

  • Step 5

    Spread each piece of chicken with a layer of Dijon. Top with the ham, asparagus, béchamel sauce, and Gruyère.

  • Step 6

    Broil until browned and bubbly, 2 to 5 minutes.

  • Step 7

    Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, melt the remaining pat or 2 of butter over medium. Crack in the eggs; season. Cook until the whites are just set, about 3 minutes.

  • Step 8

    Top each piece of chicken with an egg.

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