I don't know about you, but before today, I had no idea that Disney played a significant role in popularizing the Monte Cristo Sandwich. According to this week's Cook the Book selection, The Cook's Country Cookbook, in 1966 the Tahitian Terrace and Blue Bayou restaurants, both located in Disneyland, added the sandwich to their menus. Soon after, the Monte Cristo received "national recognition."
Unlike ordinary grilled cheese sandwiches, the Monte Cristo is a delicate balance of sweet and savory flavors. Swiss cheese, ham, and turkey are layered between slices of hearty white bread, dipped in egg batter, and fried until golden brown. The sandwiches are then served with a side of jam, sugar, or syrup for dipping.
This recipe, developed by the America's Test Kitchen team, yields perfectly crisp Monte Cristos. Toasting the bread before the sandwiches are assembled, and baking rather than frying them, ensures that they brown and caramelize flawlessly. In place of a straightforward sweetener, these sandwiches are served with strawberry jam mixed with a bit of Dijon mustard, which "tasters liked so much they wanted it spread on the bread as well as served on the side."
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- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 6 tablespoons strawberry or raspberry jam
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 12 slices hearty white sandwich bread, lightly toasted
- 18 thin slices deli Swiss or Gruyère cheese
- 12 thin slices deli ham, preferably Black Forest
- 12 thin slices deli turkey
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Adjust an oven rack to the upper middle position and heat the oven to 450°F. Whisk the eggs, cream, sugar, salt, dry mustard, and cayenne in a shallow dish until combined. Stir the jam and Dijon mustard together in a small bowl.
Spread 1 teaspoon of the jam mixture on one side of each slice of toast. Layer the slices of cheese, ham, and turkey on 6 slices of toast. Repeat with a second layer of cheese, ham, and turkey. Add a final layer of cheese and top with the remaining toast, with the jam side facing the cheese. Using your hands, lightly press down on the sandwiches.