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What’s a Monte Cristo Sandwich?

WHAT IS A MONTE CRISTO SANDWICH?

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Enjoying old-styled European cuisine at The Old European Restaurant means biting into our mouthwatering Monte Cristo sandwich. Monte Cristo is not your basic grilled cheese sandwich or regular French toast. This delicacy combines delicious egg-fried sourdough bread with melted cheese, ham, and turkey center, which makes it a perfect snack for a lunch date with a friend or on a group outing after church. 

The true Monte Cristo sandwich cannot be found in all regions of the country. It’s an extremely popular sandwich in the country’s north-western region, like where The Old European Restaurant resides. Those who reside in the southwest will struggle to find the authentic Monte Cristo sandwich recipe on the menu.

Locals in the Washington State like their Monte Cristo sandwiches loaded with grilled ham, cheese, and a bit of turkey. The scrumptious insides are surrounded by what is often sourdough bread battered in egg. 

Every bite of our Monte Cristo sandwich will make your tongue tickle. It’s popular in the far western region of the country because that’s where it originally entered from and became a part of the American menu. In fact, it got its start at one of the most magical destinations on earth.  Disney Land’s Blue Bayou Restaurant began serving the sandwich to customers in the 1960s. Ours is just as delicious but pan-fried in a shallow dish instead of deep-fried. We also add a final slice of turkey to add more contrast to the flavors present.

A LITTLE JELLY TO DIP IT INTO

jam

It’s a wonder as to whether this is breakfast or lunch food. The sandwich bread is basically french toast and some choose to enjoy their Monte Cristo with maple syrup for this reason. The crisp outside of the sandwich can also be paired with jelly. A fresh little cup of jelly with just the right sweetness is brought to your table. The typical method of enjoying a Monte Cristo sandwich is to take it in hand and dip it into the jelly. Some choose to take a knife and smear it. This isn’t easy to do as the cheese often melts on the inside. Pulling it apart can compromise the structural integrity of the whole sandwich. 

If you’d like, The Old European Restaurant can also bring a little powdered sugar to the table for those looking to relish a toothsome combination of sweet and savory flavors. The way you like your Monte Cristo sandwich can tell us a little something about where you’re from. In Southern California, it got its start as a ham and cheese sandwich. 

IT’S TRULY AN AMERICAN SANDWICH 

While it originated as a spin-off of a French sandwich called Croque Monsieur, this sandwich is a grilled cheese fried in butter and served between crustless bread. The Monte Cristo sandwich can first be found in American cookbooks. Initially, it was named French sandwich, but as time went on, it gained more complex names like French Toasted Ham Sandwich. Now, so many sandwiches of different varieties are referred to as Monte Cristo. 

What does a sandwich need to be called a Monte Cristo? 

All Monte Cristos have two things in common. They are made from egg-fried bread and have melted cheese. Those in search of a true Monte Cristo won’t find a solid definition of it anywhere. While it’s often a meat and cheese sandwich, an egg and cheese variety can be made for those looking to enjoy it on a Kosher diet. There’s no vegan way to make it, but vegetarians may also love the alteration. 

OUR TOUCH OF RASPBERRY JAM 

raspberry jam

The Old European Restaurant uses raspberry jam as a delicious dip for the sandwich. Those looking to make it at home may find other types of jams to side with sandwiches deliciously. Black currant jelly is a common recommendation for those looking to pair their sandwich with a nice dip. Most of us even have grape jelly lying around the house. Since the Monte Cristo sandwich ingredients are easy to find, like cheese and butter, you can easily whip one up in your own kitchen. Of course, it won’t compare to the professional quality you’ll find at a restaurant.  

Additionally, while it certainly pairs nicely with raspberry jam, some prefer a more savory pairing with it. Mustard is a common combination. Those who would like it for lunch or dinner may want a savory beef dip with it. 

MEET THE INGREDIENTS

Monte Cristo sandwiches are fairly easy to make. What gives it that mouth-watering taste is the ingredients used. Again the ingredients aren’t really that fancy, just some basic things available at home- bread, egg, ham, cheese, mayo, and jam. You will understand what we are talking about once we get into the details.

Bread slice

Bread Slice

For the Monte Cristo sandwich, we’ll need a good, sturdy bread. If you don’t care for a wonderfully crisp and solid sandwich, you may certainly use regular white bread. However, regular airy white breads tend to easily get soggy and fall apart, that is why we need denser bread with fewer air pockets.

Sourdough is strongly recommended; the subtle tanginess of the bread pairs well with the raspberry jam and powdered sugar. Moreover, this bread is dense and less perforated than white bread. It will keep the structure of your sandwich in place without becoming soggy. Alternatively, you can use the good old Brioche or Challah.

The slice of bread should be around 1/2 inch. If you think the crusts are too hard to chew, it’s best to trim and get rid of them. Cutting the edges is completely optional, but we like to maintain the structure of the sandwich and with a thick crust it becomes a challenge to close it from the edges, hence we use crustless bread.

Swiss Cheese

Swiss Cheese

There are many flavors in this simple sandwich recipe, and each flavor has to stand out from the rest. You will need cheese with rich flavors, such as the mild sweetness and nuttiness of swiss cheese or the acidic zing of sharp cheddar. Some swiss cheese on the market isn’t legitimate; rather, it’s a nice enough imitation of the real thing. Thus, be careful when finding your cheese for the sandwich.

We use Gruyere cheese which gives a very authentic and intense flavor to your Monte Cristo sandwich. You can buy one from your local store or get sliced cheese from the deli counter. If Gruyere cheese is not available you can substitute it with Emmental Swiss cheese.

Ham

Ham

Any basic ham is good as long as it has good taste. You can even use leftover ham for this recipe. Leftover ham is already seasoned so you won’t need more than one ham slice per sandwich. We personally love the Black Forest ham. It’s from Germany, and it’s made with a lot of spices, processing, and smoking to give it a deep flavor. Virginia ham could also work if the Black Forest ham is too hard to find. Get your ham sliced thinly from the deli counter and use 2 slices per sandwich.

Turkey

We love turkey in Monte Cristo sandwich. Who doesn’t? You can go for some holiday night leftover turkey too. Cut it into thin slices and you are good to go.

The spread

The Spread

Monte Cristo sandwich uses mayo, mustard, and berry jam as the spread. We like to stick to the authentic stuff with great flavor, so we like to use real mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. We mix the mayo and the tangy, spicy Dijon mustard in equal quantities, giving you a nice sweet and savory combo with every bite.

The Monte Cristo sandwiches used to come with berry jam on the side. However, we now use blueberry or raspberry jam on one slice of bread to provide a consistent flavor. You can even opt for strawberry jam.

Egg Batter

The batter is the usual french toast batter with beaten egg, milk, salt, and cinnamon. You can even add some vanilla extract and nutmeg to the egg mixture, but this is optional. It will certainly elevate the whole sandwich’s taste but you won’t miss out on the real flavors if you choose not to add.

HOW IS IT MADE?

To make a Monte Cristo sandwich, all you need is approximately 30 minutes. Here’s how it’s done.

Assemble the sandwich

Simply start by layering your bread slice, thinly sliced ham, turkey, and swiss cheese. Apply some softened butter to bread slices. Spread some mayo, mustard, and raspberry jam (optional) onto separate bread slices. With this, your Monte Cristo sandwich is completely assembled and is ready to be fried in a hot skillet.

The secret to perfect Monte Cristo

Now that your sandwich is fully assembled, there is one more thing you have to do. The trick of creating a perfect Monte Cristo sandwich is to press it down before cooking it to enclose it tight and make sure it doesn’t fall apart while you are pan-frying it. The easy hack is to push the sandwich down with a cast-iron skillet and put some weight on it. 

Fry your Monte Cristo to crisp 

Now, add butter to the frying pan, carefully dip the assembled sandwich in the egg batter, and pan-fry or deep fry it until it turns golden brown. Your Monte Cristo sandwich will be ready in no time. 

The oil should be hot enough before you suspend the sandwich into it. As soon as you dip the sandwich, you’ll hear a nice sizzle and in a minute or two, your sandwich will be ready to eat. You could place it on a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of excess oil.

If you have used white bread then you will have to be really quick with dipping it in the batter. The longer you wait, the soggier it will become. It will ruin the structure completely, so be cautious.

This sandwich makes a delicious hearty meal. It takes about half an hour to make the entire sandwich.

If you cut it in half you can see the cheese melts. You should definitely try this at The Old European Restaurant if you want a restaurant-quality sandwich, made with only the finest ingredients available.

HOW TO SERVE MONTE CRISTO SANDWICHES?

We serve this delicious Monte Cristo sandwich with powdered sugar dust and seedless raspberry jam. Some people like to have maple syrup along with it to make it sweeter. Honestly, maple and ham are a match made in heaven. You can add some extra flavors to your meal by serving it with a fresh fruit salad or vegetable salad.

How you want to enjoy this beauty is completely up to you but make sure you serve it hot. It tastes the best when it’s freshly made. The Old European Restaurant promises this absolute bliss in its full authenticity. 

HAVE IT AT THE OLD EUROPEAN RESTAURANT 

Sitting down at what was once a little old pancake house, but now is a fully equipped restaurant that serves the best of American and European breakfasts and lunches is sure to bring joy to the whole family. With over nineteen breakfast items alone, everyone in your party is sure to find something scrumptious to eat. If you’re looking for something you won’t typically be able to find on this continent, like Danish Aebelskivers, you’ll find it here and that too in its most authentic form. The classic breakfasts you’re used to enjoying, like hotcakes, are also ready for enjoyment after being freshly cooked on the stove. 

Visiting us at lunchtime is just as good. You aren’t only confined to our Monte Cristo. We also have a classic Reuben sandwich. Finding one that compares would mean traveling to the East Coast. If you’re looking for something warm during those challenging winter months, a grilled sandwich pairs well with a hot drink like our peppermint candy cocoa beverage. Others enjoy having their Monte Cristo with freshly squeezed lemonade. Regardless of when you come in, our Monte Cristo sandwiches are made to order and are perfect for any time of year. We also allow minor adjustments to anything on our menu.

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