This sandwich is our feature for #NationalSandwichDay
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.
"From the 1930s to the 1960s, American cookbooks had recipes under such names as "French sandwich", "toasted ham sandwich", and "French toasted cheese sandwich". The Monte Cristo sandwich supposedly appeared in the 1960s in Southern California, and rose in popularity after the Blue Bayou Restaurant in Disneyland began serving it."
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 in a top hat.
Anyway, I decided to give the Monte Cristo a go with Abigail’s Oven Country Loaf.
Monte Christo Sourdough Sandwich Recipe
- 2–3 slices Abigail’s Oven Country Loaf
- Mayonnaise, as needed
- 2 slices Gruyere, Gouda or Havarti cheese
- 2 thin slices of turkey (and ham if using 3 slices of bread, [see recipe image above])
- 3 large beaten eggs
- 1/4 cup cream or milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Strawberries, blueberries or orange slices, for garnish
- Serve with jam (blue or blackberry)
- Lay out 2 slices of sourdough bread and spread each with mayonnaise. On one slice, layer a slice of cheese and two slices of turkey (and ham if desired) topped with one more slice of cheese. Place the remaining slice of bread on the top layer of cheese.
- Cut the crusts from the sandwich. Wrap the sandwich tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 6 hours. Wrapping the sandwich in plastic wrap compacts it and prevents the egg batter from seeping in by sealing the edges.
- Combine the eggs and cream (or milk) in a bowl. Unwrap the sandwich and dip it into the egg batter, coating it evenly.
- In a skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Place the dredged sandwich into the skillet; fry, turning once, until golden brown and hot, about 5 minutes.
- Cut the Monte Cristo in half and transfer it to a plate with garnish (strawberry slices and blue berries as shown in this post's header).
- Spoon jam over each half and serve immediately.
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.
1 Wikipedia quoting: Stradley, Linda (n.d.). "Monte Cristo Sandwich History". What's Cooking America. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
2 Wikipedia quoting: Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "These Are Hands Down The Greatest Sandwiches Of All Time"
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