Breakfast Croque Monsieur

John Currence

City Grocery, Oxford, MS

"This is a traditional croque with bacon as well as pit-smoked ham and a dollop of sweet slaw to cut the saltiness. A spoonful of Comeback Sauce makes it the poor man’s Reuben. An egg over the top makes it the Jerry Lawler, or 'king' of breakfast sandwiches."

Reprinted with permission from Big Bad Breakfast by John Currence, copyright © 2016. Photography by Ed Anderson. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.


2 servings


Sweet Slaw (makes about 3 cups):

  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage 
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot 
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion 
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
  • 1 tablespoon Texas Pete hot sauce or your preferred vinegar hot sauce 
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

Mornay Sauce (makes about 2 cups):

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 2 cups whole milk 
  • 1/3 yellow onion, root intact 
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese 
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper 

Croque Monsieur:

  • 3 tablespoons Comeback Sauce 
  • 4 thick slices sourdough bread 
  • 4 to 6 slices pit-smoked ham (or any high-quality storebought ham)
  • 4 slices cooked bacon 
  • 1/3 cup Sweet Slaw 
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese 
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter 
  • 1/4 cup Mornay Sauce 
  • 2 fried eggs (optional)


Make the sweet slaw: in a stainless steel bowl, toss together the cabbage, carrots, and onions. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, relish, sugar, vinegar, hot sauce, oil, celery seeds, and salt. Pour the mayonnaise mixture over the cabbage mixture and stir together until well combined. Allow to stand, refrigerated, for several hours before serving so the flavors can develop. Stir well before serving. (Note: this recipe makes more than you will need, but it keeps well in the refrigerator for about 4 or 5 days and goes great with sandwiches and burgers, and really well with barbecue.)

Make the mornay sauce: melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until a roux forms. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the roux turns a light gold color and gives off a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk, then stir in the onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Discard the onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Add the cheese and nutmeg and cook, stirring, until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Stir in the salt and white pepper. Serve warm. Refrigerate any remaining Mornay in a plastic container for up to 3 days. 

Make the croque monsieur: preheat the broiler. Spread the Comeback Sauce evenly on the bread slices. On the 2 “bottom” bread slices, place the ham, followed by the bacon, slaw, and cheese. Top with the remaining 2 slices of bread. 

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Place the sandwiches in the skillet and cook until the bottom sides are browned, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then flip the sandwiches and firmly press the tops with a spatula. Cook until the second side is browned, about 2 minutes more. 

Transfer the sandwiches to a baking sheet and spoon the Mornay over the top. Slide under the broiler and broil, watching constantly, until the sauce bubbles and browns, about 1 minute. Optional: add a fried egg to the top of each sandwich for a trip into the stratosphere. Serve immediately.