Sunday, November 27, 2016

Monte Cristo Sandwich

Thanksgiving dinner arrived at the door along with the hugs and warm greetings of family. They brought it all, everything, the entire dinner. Everything even included the turkey fryer for an 18-pound bird! (Note: I was allowed to contribute my Zesty Cranberry Relish.) What a thoughtful, caring present from this cast of characters; Seattlites Niece Hilary and Dave plus Californians Meg and Brother Mike. For hours the house was filled with conversation, friendly teasing, suspected tall tales and humorous stories, wedding plan updates and endless laughter. All in all, a terrific family celebration and a delicious meal. 
Photo: The Thanksgiving Cooks 2016

On Friday RL and I revisited Thanksgiving memories, surveyed the many containers of leftovers in the fridge, and nibbled on a rerun of Thursday's feast. 

Turkey sandwiches, enjoyed late night or next day, are always a major highlight of this holiday meal. Some years we favor simple sliced turkey on white bread, other years we crave Kentucky Hot Browns with cheese sauce or turkey gravy. This year we opted for Turkey and Ham Monte Cristo Sandwiches. Possibly a variation of the Croque Monsieur, this batter-dipped, butter-fried sandwich is an over-the-top and delicious use of leftover turkey meat. Ooey gooey, salty, savory decadence... sigh, but so worth every artery clogging bite (and a reason to return to healthier eating the very next day).  

My Monte Cristos are a cross between French Toast and a grilled cheese and meat sandwich, occasionally with some crispy bacon added... just 'cuz. No recipe required, just freeform it.

1. Use 2 slices of bread per sandwich. Slather one side of the bread with mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Add some chutney or cranberry relish if you like.

2. Alternate layers of thin-sliced meat (ham and/or turkey), cheese (Havarti or Swiss) and bacon (optional) on the bread. Close the sandwich and press top gently to compact slightly. This will help hold it all together when you flip it in the  pan.

3. Beat an egg and a bit of milk in a pie pan or shallow, rimmed plate. Dip each side of the sandwich briefly in the egg mixture, long enough to coat thoroughly but not get soggy. You want a crisp exterior and soft, gooey middle. 

4. Melt a pat of butter in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Place coated sandwich in frying pan and cook until bottom is golden brown. Flip the sandwich, adding more butter as needed, and cook until the second side is golden brown and the cheese is melted. This takes 4 to 5 minutes per side in my kitchen.

5. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool briefly to set cheese a bit. Cut into wedges, plate and serve.

Note: It is traditional to dust the sandwiches with powdered sugar and serve with a side of jelly. I skip that feature, relishing the salty, savory richness of the sandwich without the distraction of an added sweet. For a flavor pop, I would prefer a swipe of Zesty Cranberry Relish rather than powdered sugar and jam, but that's just me. 

Don't wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy a Monte Cristo. They are delicious using deli-sliced cold cuts or meat pulled from a deli-roasted chicken. Get creative and add some roasted green chiles, or substitute thin waffles for the bread. Go for it! 

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