Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monte Cristo sandwiches

(I've flown the coop and headed south!  :)  I'll be spending the next few days on vacation in Savannah, Georgia.  While I'm off enjoying the sights and tastes of the area, I've prepared some recipes to keep your eyes and stomachs happy and satisfied.  Any questions or comments will go unanswered until I return.  Thanks for understanding!)

Quick!  Name a few of your favorite foods.  If I said that to Matt, somewhere in his top 5 would come mentions of French toast and sandwiches.  This comes as no surprise since one of our very first conversations revolved around lunch and that sandwiches were one of the greatest things on the planet.  Looking back now, had I mentioned this very meal, I'm convinced he would've proposed on the spot :)  Hindsight is always 20-20, right?

What exactly is this very meal?  A Monte Cristo sandwich, of course!

Salty deli ham and turkey with melty Swiss cheese sandwiched between two pieces of French toast, topped with a dusting of confectioner's sugar and sweet maple syrup for dipping.  Sound too gourmet to make at home?  Think again!  All of the ingredients are both common and inexpensive, and can be found at any grocery store.  "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts." Ab-so-lute-ly!

Begin by making the egg mixture and dunking the slices of bread. Cook just like you would French toast.

Flip bread, and top one half of eventual sandwich with meats and cheese. Combine to make epic sandwich.

Here comes my favorite part -- dust top of sandwich with confectioner's sugar!  There's something so fun and whimsical about making this stuff "snow" on various foods.  Almost makes me wish it were still winter.  NOT!  And enjoy with a little bowl of maple syrup.

But, how does the maple syrup get on the sandwich?  If you use the ever-practical diagonal cut (the only way to cut toast or a sandwich, in my humble opinion), just like this.

Don't be shy, just dive right in!  And if you drip, I promise it's okay.  That's what fingers are for :)  Just watch out for sticky fingers that aren't your own. There was no way I was going to let someone steal share this baby. You'll see what I mean when you try this!

Monte Cristo Sandwiches
-makes 2

A few notes: Originally, the entire sandwich is dipped into egg batter and fried, but I made a few changes to make the process easier and less messy for the home cook -- in fact, I prefer my method :)  Also, feel free to play with the combination of meats and cheese.  Just because a traditional Monte Cristo uses one set, that shouldn't limit your imagination!  You might prefer only ham or only turkey, or try adding proscuitto and brie in place of Swiss.  Have fun with this!

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
Dash nutmeg
Dash salt
Dash ground black pepper
4 slices bread
1 Tablespoon butter
4 ounces thinly-sliced ham
4 ounces thinly-sliced turkey
4 slices Swiss cheese
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
Maple syrup, for dipping

Melt butter over medium-low heat.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and spices.  Dip bread into egg mixture, as you would when making French toast, being sure to coat (and soak) bread completely.  Arrange four slices in skillet and first side to cook and turn golden brown.

Turn bread over and, while remaining side is cooking, build up the sandwiches.  Layer the turkey, one slice of cheese, the ham, and final piece of cheese on two of the four slices.  Once remaining sides are cooked, top meat and cheese side with second piece of bread, pressing slightly.  Remove from skillet, plate, dust with confectioner's sugar and serve immediately with maple syrup for dipping.

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