Monday, June 16, 2014

The Monte Cristo

Monte Cristo Sandwiches: a play on the Croque-Monsieur.
Sandwich Night is not a new concept in my house – it’s a fairly common occurrence, thanks to this blog. The type of sandwich obviously varies, depending on what ingredients are handy and how ambitious I feel.  Last night, ambition was high and so was the excitement level regarding our upcoming move to France. We were feeling French, so it felt like the right time to introduce ourselves to a new sandwich: The Monte Cristo.

The Monte Cristo traditionally is made with ham and cheese, coated in egg and fried. Sound a lot like French Toast, minus the ham and cheese? That’s because it’s also a spin-off of the French sandwich, the Croque-Monsieur, which will get its own post, naturellement.

I was intrigued by its origins, as I am with all the well-known sandwiches I make, so I did a little digging into its past. The Monte Cristo is believed to have been first served in Paris in 1910 and gained popularity when it was served at Disneyland restaurants in the mid-1960s. Apparently, it’s still on the menu at the Tahitian Terrace. It is not to be confused with The Count of Monte Cristo, an adventure novel from 1844 by Alexandre Dumas, unless you consider the joke that in France, this sandwich is served ‘with a vengeance’.

Ooh, la la!

To serve up your own Monte Cristo, you will need: 

-Sandwich bread, your choice (traditionally, it’s made with white bread, but I used a thick rye)
-Strong Cheddar cheese, sliced
-Turkey or Ham slices
Simple ingredients: eggs, milk, bread, mustard, cheese, meat.
-Whole grain Dijon Mustard
-2/3 cup of Milk
-3 Eggs
-1/4 tsp. each fresh Pepper and Thyme leaves
-A hot skillet


1-Spread a layer of mustard on half of the bread slices.
2-Top with cheese and turkey/ham slices and the other, non-mustard-ed bread slices.
3-In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk, pepper and thyme together.
4-Carefully dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture to coat each side.
5-Melt the butter in the skillet and grill the sandwiches 3-4 minutes each side, until brown.
6-Serve hot, with ketchup, ranch dressing or jelly, as its traditionally served with, for a little extra something sweet.

Très bien!

This fancy French sandwich needs a knife and fork.
I really liked the different textures and flavours of this sandwich: the egg batter made the bread soft but also a bit crispy around the edges and the smoked turkey and strong cheddar complimented themselves well. And in my opinion, everything tastes better with Dijon mustard.

This is a knife-and-fork sandwich, since it’s best when it’s hot off the skillet and feels fancier eating this repas français with utensils. My only recommendation would be to layer the turkey/ham between two slices of cheese for maximum cohesion while grilling. The numerous cheese possibilities are also definitely worth playing with: Gruyere or Emmental would be the top two on my very long list….

Vengeance optional, but couldn’t hurt for authenticity’s sake.  Bon appétit!

For more information on the Monte Cristo, check out:

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