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Monte Cristo Sandwich

September 28, 2010
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Honesty is the best policy and the truth is, as much as I love to cook, sometimes an easy dinner is all I can manage. Last night, I led my first cooking class and it was exhilarating. Something I will be doing again in a couple of weeks and am very much looking forward to. So, tonight I needed something low-key; sandwich night it was. Since I’m slightly obsessed with trying new things I checked the fridge and was happy to see that there was still some good polish krakus ham and roasted turkey… I had some great leftover bread and there are always eggs. A Monte Cristo (a variation on the slightly more complicated Croque-monsieur) was my experimental dinner. I used provolone rather than the Swiss or Gruyère normally used but it worked great and with a little grainy mustard it all came together. Too bad I learned after the fact that it  is traditionally served with a side of jelly. Actually sounds pretty good.

Monte Cristo

for 2 servings you’ll need:

4 slices bread

2-3 slices ham

2-3 slices turkey or chicken

4 slices provolone, swiss or gruyère

1 Tbsp. grey poupon or other grainy dijon-style mustard

2 tsp. butter

1 egg

1 Tbsp. milk

black pepper

1/4 tsp. dry mustard

Lightly toast bread on both sides. In a low, wide bowl beat egg, milk, pepper and dry mustard. Dip one side of each slice of bread in egg to soak up even amounts on each. Heat skillet and melt butter. Lay 2 slices of bread wet side down on hot griddle. Lay a slice of cheese, ham, turkey and second slice of cheese on top. Lay second slice of bread, wet side up. Grill until browned, turn to grill second side adding more butter before flipping. Cover with aluminum foil to help melt cheese.  Cut in half and serve with sliced tomatoes and a cold beer.

This is what the food writers say…

“Monte Cristo sandwich…A sandwich composed of ham, chicken, and Swiss cheese enclosed in bread that is dipped in beaten egg and fried until golden brown. The origin on the name is not known.”
Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 209)

“A classic story deserves a classic sandwich, even though nobody knows how the sandwich got its name. It may have been invented in San Francisco in the 1950s.”
—“I’m going to see a remake of “The Count of Monte Cristo…,” Hartford Courant, January 24, 2002 (p. 10)

“Monte Cristo sandwich invented in the Coronado Hotel in San Diego…” [no date provided] —“LA really is a bread basket,” Los Angeles Times, December 19, 1996 (p. H13)

“…the [Blue Bayou in New Orlean’s Square, Disneyland/Anaheim California] restaurant’s Monte Cristo sandwich probably has been the most recognizable — and demanded — item on the menu since it first appeared in 1966. It hasn’t changed since then,” said Boll, “and it’s become a standard. It’s a very, very popular item. We serve about 160 to 200 of them every day. When the first one of the day comes out, everybody who sees it wants to order one. It comes close to the croque monsieur that originated in France.”
—“Chef du Jour: Disney’s counter of Monte Cristo,” Los Angeles Times, July 15, 1993 (p. 36)

The earliest reference we find to a Monte Cristo sandwich is printed in a 1941 menu from Gordon’s on Wilshire Blvd., Los Angles. We do not know how these were made.

The oldest recipe we have (so far) for the Monte Cristo sandwich was printed in The Brown Derby Cook Book, 1949. The Brown Derby restaurant is located in Los Angeles, California and is famous for serving Hollywood’s elite.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 29, 2010 6:32 am

    So glad to hear that your cooking class went well! I’m loving the fact that we both did Monte Cristo’s last night, even though mine was a bit odd…
    I’ll be emailing you later today, I have a ravioli question 🙂

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