From Mister Crunchy to Monte Cristo—Can the Country Loaf Go Full Cristo?
Have you ever wondered why the Monte Cristo sandwich is named after the famous novel? I have. I mean, it’s not like the count was dining on sandwiches dredged in cream and egg and topped with jam. He was in prison for a big chunk of the book. A bad prison where he had to tap on the walls to communicate with another prisoner. So not a friendly place.
It turns out that the sandwich is a variation on the Croque Monsieur—a grilled French ham and cheese sandwich with gruyere cheese and béchamel sauce. In English, that’s “Mr. Crunchy” to you. I’ve actually made this recipe, so I’m feeling a little embarrassed I never put two and two together.
Fun fact: the Croque Madame—the female version of the sandwich—is topped with an egg. So Mrs. Crunchy.
Anyway, I decided to give the Monte Cristo a go with Abigail’s Oven Country Loaf.
A lot of recipes call for a third layer of bread, but after some thought, I decided to stick with two. Because what do people say when they heft our loaf for the first time? Oof, that’s heavy. (Kind of like at the Oscars.)
So yes, Abigail’s bread is a little heavier and denser than other varieties, while still managing to be deliciously tender—but I think a monte made with three layers of Country Loaf might taste like you’re eating all bread.
I also chose Havarti because I happened to have some on hand. Most recipes call for Swiss. Next time I might try Gruyere.
I used turkey and decided to go with the French toast method rather than deep frying. It just sounded better. But I’d like to try both versions, eventually.
The method that Mama’s on Washington Square uses, as featured by Food Network in this link, sounded great to me. They cut the crusts off and cover the sandwich in plastic wrap, thus pinching the sides together, and leave it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This keeps the batter from infiltrating the insides of your sandwich. It worked pretty well. This recipe also recommends gouda cheese, and that sounds pretty wonderful, too.
I was very pleased with the results. The sourdough did not take away from the sweetness. I served it with blueberry jam and a dusting of powdered sugar. I think the deep-fry method would make it more scone-like, which might be even better.
Author: Michelle Hubbard is a graduate of Brigham Young University with an English degree and an editing minor. She won Leading Edge’s “Best First Chapter” award and later joined the publication as a slush reader and editor. After attending the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference in Sandy, Utah, she became a volunteer and this June will be her ninth year as an assistant. She is also a writing officer for Misha Collin’s charity Random Acts. A draft of her middle-grade novel, Oscar and the Ghosts of Paris, placed second with the Utah Arts Council. She lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah, with her husband, sister, two children, and far too many pets