Ham, turkey and melted cheese on egg-dipped, butter-crisped white bread, the Monte Cristo sandwich made waitressing at the local Denny’s in that godawful brown polyester uniform, almost worth it. Perhaps because the fried bread’s a lot like French toast, The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures puts the Monte Cristo in that “strange netherworld between breakfast and lunch,” making it perfect for Hobbit “elevensies.”
Most basically an Americanized Croque Monsieur, the Monte Cristo is purported to have first appeared under that menu moniker in 1950s California. Disney started serving it in 1966 at its Blue Bayou and Tahitian Terrace restaurants on New Orleans Square in Disneyworld, and chain-restaurants popularized it ever after. LRF’s triple-decker version riffs on a Los Angeles recipe that Gourmet magazine ran in 1968, in response to a reader request.
Makes one triple-decker sandwich (enough for two servings)
Monte Cristo Sandwich Ingredients
- three generous slices good-quality bakery white bread
- thin-sliced deli ham (three slices)
- thin-sliced deli turkey (three slices) OR thin-sliced turkey breast from your leftover Thanksgiving turkey
- mild Swiss (or brick) cheese, three slices
- 1 egg, beaten
- strawberry jam, to serve with sandwich
- Lightly butter one of the slices of bread. Fold each ham slice in half and shingle across the buttered bread. Fold each turkey slice in half and shingle over ham.
- Butter second slice of bread lightly on both sides. Place this slice on top of the meat.
- Shingle cheese over second slice of bread.
- Lightly butter third slice of bread and place (buttered side down) over the cheese.
- Trim crusts. Cut sandwich in fourths. Secure each triangle with toothpicks.
- Melt a pat of butter in saute pan until hot. Dip one side of each sandwich quarter lightly in egg and place in saute pan, frying until browned on that side. Lift sandwich out of pan and dip another side in the egg wash. Fry until browned on that side. Keep dipping and frying until each side (there are five “sides” to each sandwich quarter) is golden brown and cheese is melted.
- Stand wedges on plate and serve with strawberry jam.