The Green Madame

April 24, 2012
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

This sandwich (like my pork torta) is inspired by a favorite sandwich at "the fancy sandwich shop" aka. Mike and Patty's in Boston. They make what they call a breakfast sandwich, and what I call an anytime sandwich. It's called the green madame, which is kind of an open faced croque madame, with sautéed greens layered in.
I decided to try out the idea with some spring alliums; roasted, rather than sautéed, because I thought it would give them some nice, crispy charred bits (it does). I wanted to use ramps, but they are not in our market yet, so I wound up using some green garlic. What's nice about this is that you really could use almost any spring allium (spring garlic, spring onions, slim young leeks, ramps), and I'm sure it would be tasty with any of them. Stinky, creamy gruyere sauce looooves soft, slumping mounds of roasted alliums, and the egg on top does what an egg on top always does: Makes it perfect. If you'd like, you can slip a piece of good ham into your sandwich too, which will make it closer to a classic croque madame, but I found I liked it better without. The garlic should be in charge. —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

In this ingenious take on a classic Croque Madame, roasted green garlic brings alluring hints of black pepper and licorice to a holy trinity of bechamel sauce, Gruyere, and gently fried egg. If you're feeling particularly gluttonous, add a touch more Gruyere to the toast and sauce. The papery crunch of the roasted garlic is so addictive that we wonder why we've ever prepared spring greens any other way. Consider slicing the green garlic into bite-size lengths either before or after roasting for easier eating. —mitschlag

  • Serves 2
  • 2 bunches of young spring garlic (no cloves formed yet) (or ramps, or leeks...)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus a bit extra for frying eggs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk (about, I always wind up making bechamel by feel, rather than true measurements)
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup heaping, of grated raw milk Gruyere
  • 2 generous slices of crusty, country style bread
  • 2 large eggs
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Trim the bottoms, and the uppermost part of the green tops off of your green garlic. Toss them with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet or large roasting pan, and put them in the oven. Roast them, stirring occasionally, until they are quite soft and have dark brown splotches all over them. Then, remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. While your garlic is roasting you can make your bechamel. In a small saucepan, heat the butter until it is foaming. Whisk in the flour to form a paste, and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook, stirring for about 2 minutes to keep the flour from tasting raw. But don't let it turn brown. We're not making a roux.
  3. Whisk in your milk bit by bit. Whisk vigorously with each addition of milk until the mixture is smooth. Be sure not to add too much milk at a time because that can definitely cause lumps. When all the milk is added and you have a loose sauce, stir in your nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium low heat, stirring pretty much constantly, until the sauce has thickened, 6-7 minutes. Then, remove from the heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of your gruyere. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.
  4. Toast your pieces of bread until they are golden, then put them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining grated gruyere onto the pieces of bread, and mound some roasted spring garlic on each. Spoon bechamel generously over the top of each sandwich.
  5. Heat your broiler to high and put the sandwiches under it. Broil - keep an eye on them - until the bechamel is bubbling and starting to brown in patches. Then remove from the broiler.
  6. While the sandwiches are broiling, melt a bit more butter in a small frying pan. When it is foaming, crack the eggs into the pan and sprinkle them with just a bit of salt and pepper. Fry them over gentle heat until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. When they're ready, put an egg on top of each sandwich.
  7. These are knife and fork sandwiches. Yeah!
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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.