Among the sandwiches in the world, there are many that I like, including the corned beef with Swiss Cheese, cole slaw and thousand island dressing, the club sandwich, peanut butter and jelly. The list goes on. All are simple in their own way, and all have their own complexity. Few, though, combine and elegant simplicity with the complexity of delightful flavors and textures as the Monte Cristo.
My first experience with a Monte Cristo sandwich was when we stopped for dinner at a Bennigan’s after a World Cup soccer game at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1994 between Russia and Sweden. Now, I could go on about how hot it was in the middle of August and the Silverdome was like a sauna because they brought in natural turf, and there were hundreds of young Swedish girls running around in blue shorts and yellow t-shirts, but that’s a story for another blog.
This story is about that stop at Bennigan’s that I mentioned earlier. Skimming the menu, my eye was captured, not unlike the way it was captured by the Swedish girls, but the description of the Monte Cristo sandwich. Turkey, ham, Swiss and American cheese, batter-dipped and deep fried, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with raspberry preserves.
Well, the powdered sugar and the raspberry preserves I could do without. I mean, seriously, who puts raspberry jelly on a ham and turkey sandwich? But the batter-dipped and deep fried part, I had to find out what this was all about. My redneck, hillbilly heritage notwithstanding, I am a great admirer of deep fried cuisine.
I’ve had Monte Cristo sandwiches from several places. Each was made in a slightly different way. Some were batter-dipped and deep fried whole. Others, only the bread was battered and grilled, which leads me to my own personal version of this versatile and tasty sandwich.
And here’s the best part: You can make an egg batter and dip the bread in it, but if you’re going to do that, why not make French toast?
I make the egg batter with eggs because, of course, who wouldn’t? In that, a little sugar, al little milk, and a little cinnamon. Then a little more cinnamon. And after that a little more cinnamon. If you have to think about how much cinnamon you’re putting into the eggs, then you’re not putting in enough.
While the French toast is cooking, this is a good time to grill the ham and the turkey. This might seem redundant, and it is, but when you assemble the sandwich, the lightly grilled ham and turkey helps to melt the cheese, and there is nothing redundant about that.
Now, please enjoy this video of Master Bart Ryan teaching a throw at The Dungeon in June, 2012.