"The Count of Monte Cristo" is an epic story of adventure, justice, and revenge — but the Monte Cristo sandwich is a savory and sweet delight made of ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese that gets dipped into an egg mixture and fried on a stove. While eating the sandwich may or may not evoke the same feelings as reading the book, the two may actually be connected in a different way. Many believe that the food was named after the novel by French author Alexandre Dumas and, therefore, it is thought that the sandwich has origins in France. The general consensus is that the Monte Cristo is an offshoot of the classic croque monsieur, which is close to the same thing except it doesn't get the turkey and French toast treatment, and it includes a béchamel sauce which the Monte Cristo does not.
The croque monsieur was first created in a Parisian café, but once people started eating it in the U.S. in the 1930s, it appeared in cookbooks as the French sandwich or toasted ham sandwich. The first true Monte Cristo was likely served in southern California in the 1950s, but Disneyland in 1966 gets credit for making it as popular as it is. To this day, the park's Cafe Orleans serves a Monte Cristo adaptation of the original French croque monsieur with ham, turkey, Swiss cheese, powdered sugar, and preserves.
How To Make A Monte Cristo Sandwich
A classic Monte Cristo sandwich is a simple combination of ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese with the bread dipped into an egg mixture and fried on the stove. You could use white bread, but challah or any other thick slices that can hold their own in an egg mixture would work well too.
The process for making these sandwiches is similar to that of grilled cheese. First, you slather one slice of bread with mayo and the other with mustard. Then you arrange your meat and cheese between the slices and dip the whole sandwich in a mixture of eggs, milk, salt, and cinnamon or nutmeg. After you've melted a little butter in a skillet, fry the sandwich for a few minutes on each side until it's golden brown, just like you would with a grilled cheese. Typically, the sandwiches are then topped with powdered sugar and served with a side of jam or honey.
Variations On A Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich
There are ways to adapt a Monte Cristo if you're not a fan of the usual ingredients. Try swapping out the Swiss for provolone, muenster, or Gruyère, the latter of which is a staple in croque monsieur sandwiches. To switch up the protein options, go with any sliced meat you enjoy, including prosciutto, mortadella, pepperoni, or even bologna. And while jam is a typical dipping sauce for a Monte Cristo, there's no rule saying it has to remain that way. If you'd like to fully incorporate it into your sandwich, spread it on the bread slices instead of mustard. To amp up the cheesy flavor even more, you could add cream cheese to your bread, as was recorded in one of the earliest known American recipes from Los Angeles.
While a sandwich is the most common way to enjoy the flavors of a Monte Cristo, why stop there? The sweet and savory combination also works well with crepes and waffles instead of regular bread. Feel free to get a little creative when you make yours, as the Monte Cristo is a meal that was built on adaptations.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.