The Washington Post

Cheesy Ham Bake With Spicy Fried Eggs

Cheesy Ham Bake With Spicy Fried Eggs 6.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Dec 29, 2020

Turn a croque madame into a make-ahead casserole with this recipe that takes a few liberties with the classic dish. It can be on the table for breakfast, lunch or dinner when you make it, or be refrigerated and reheated as a whole or as individual servings, before adding the fried eggs. After refrigeration, the creamy ham and cheese bake cuts more cleanly for a prettier plate. Gruyere is preferred, but Swiss cheese can be substituted. Ciabatta can sub in for focaccia. Serve this rich dish with a light green salad.

Make Ahead: The cheese sauce for this casserole can be made up to 1 day in advance. Reheat it in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking constantly until creamy. The casserole, without the egg, can be assembled 3 days in advance and refrigerated. Remove it from the refrigerator while the oven is preheating and then proceed as directed.

Storage Notes: Leftover casserole can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat the casserole, or an individual portion, in a 350-degree oven or toaster oven for 15 minutes, or until bubbly. Then, top with the egg and chives.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings

  • 1 square plain or herb-seasoned focaccia bread loaf (10 to 12 ounces total)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more as needed
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups (6 1/2 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground white pepper, divided, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided, plus more as needed
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced ham
  • 6 large eggs
  • Chopped fresh chives, for serving


Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

Slice the bread in half horizontally so it is about 1/2-inch thick, then trim as needed so the two halves loosely fill a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Fill any gaps with the bread trimmings, if you like. Place the bread in the oven and toast for about 10 minutes, or until crisp.

While the bread is toasting, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add flour to make a roux; cook, whisking, until the roux just starts to darken, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, raise the heat to high and bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly, until it begins to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat. Whisk in the mustard, 1 cup of the cheese, 1 teaspoon of the pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of the nutmeg until well combined and smooth, about 2 minutes.

Remove the baking dish from the oven. Transfer the toasted bread to a plate and spread 1 cup cheese sauce evenly in the baking dish. Nestle the bread into sauce, cut side up. Top with the ham and the remaining cheese sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup cheese.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until bubbly and browned in places on top.

Remove the casserole from the oven and let cool while you fry the eggs, or until the cheese stops bubbling.

In a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt the remaining butter and sprinkle in the remaining white pepper and nutmeg. Add the eggs, slipping them in just a few seconds apart to allow the whites to set before adding another. (This helps to prevent the eggs from sticking together.) Fry until the whites are opaque but the yolks are still soft, 2 to 3 minutes. If you fry the eggs in batches, add more butter and spices as needed.

To serve, use a sharp knife to cut the casserole into six even pieces. Using a thin, metal spatula, transfer a section of the casserole to a plate. Top each portion with a spiced fried egg and sprinkle generously with fresh-cut chives.

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Recipe Source

From recipes editor Ann Maloney.

Tested by Ann Maloney.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 511

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 32g 49%

Saturated Fat: 15g 75%

Cholesterol: 269mg 90%

Sodium: 1024mg 43%

Total Carbohydrates: 26g 9%

Dietary Fiber: 2g 8%

Sugar: 5g

Protein: 29g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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