“'I have walked along a street with the best cigar in the cosmos in my mouth, and more Burgundy inside me then you have ever saw in your life, and longed that the lamp-post would turn into an elephant to save me from the hell of blank existence.'” -The Napolean of Notting Hill
I’ve been reading a classic and it inspired me to create this sandwich-The Monte Cristo. Can you guess the title of the book?
Well, this hybrid croque-monsieur, (also known as the grilled cheese with ham) calls for butter-frying the white bread in an egg batter, similar to french toast; it is a decadent treat that pairs salty, savory with sweet. It is joined with jam or preserves and sometimes sprinkled with a bit of powdered sugar! I opted for a candied fig garnish and no powdered sugar. If you love hot, satisfying sandwiches, this ones for you!
Voilà, a Monte Cristo
This recipe makes 3 sandwiches, adjust as needed.
For the sandwich:
6 Slices of White Bread
1/4 pound of roasted turkey, thin slices
1/4 pound Honey Ham or Regular Ham, thin slices Slices
A wedge of Gruyère cheese
For the candied fig side garnish:
Several tablespoons of sugar
Triple Sec or orange juice
2-3 whole eggs
The Batter; 2-3 Eggs
The Cheese Makes it Great! Guyerre.
Ingredients: Candied Figs
Preheat oven to 300 Farenheit or 150 Celsius
Gently cut figs into small wedges
Crack eggs into bowl and whisk to a blended consistency
Make the sandwich: Ham, Turkey and slices of cheese; Set aside next to batter.
Making the Candied Figs:
put several large tablespoons of sugar into a pan add a few splashes of water then set on stove top on medium temperature.
Caramelize the sugar.
Sugar to Caramel
Add figs and stir them around to get them evenly coated.
Add a few splashes of triple sec and reduce heat to low-medium heat.
Caramelizing the Figs, Adding the Triple Sec
Allow to reduce and thicken for a few minutes then remove the pan from heat.
Making the Monte Cristo
Heat a skillet on the stove at medium to high temperature, adding a liberal chunk of salted butter.
Dip the Sandwich whole into the batter, coating bottom and top slices of bread in egg.
Yes, The Bread Goes Into Eggs!
When the skillet is hot and the butter is just beginning to brown, place the drenched sandwich into the skillet.
Great Frying Cristo!
Fry each side for several minutes. Repeat for the remaining 2.
Remove sandwich from skillet and place on a middle rack in the oven for 5-7 minutes to get a nice crunchy and melty texture.
Serve the Monte Cristo as a Sandwich in two portions and dress the sides of the plate with the candied fig garnish. Don’t be a stranger to the figs; dip your Monte right into the sauce- it’s boss!
A great story is a great story; It’s almost as simple as that but what strikes me every time with Dumas and his writing style, (beside is his skill for dramatics and grand adventure) is the repasts he serves up. His detail of a sumptuous feasts, cellars of wines, sweet meats and grand fetes; all are are seamlessly woven into all of his novels; almost like embroidering streaks of delicious silver and gold into a grand tapestry. As a cook and a reader, this, for me is tops.
Let me give you one great example I read just the other day in, The Man in the IronMask-it is a repast that was being held at the Bastille of all places:
“He had a guest to-day and the spit turned more heavily than usual. Roast partridges flanked with quails and flanking a larded leveret*; boiled fowls; ham fried and sprinkled with white wine; cardons of guipuzcoa** and la bisque écrevisse***: these together with the soups and hors-d’oeuvre, constituted the bill of fare.”
La Bisque Ecrevisses
Lardons; Back Fat
All pictures belong to their respective authors.
*A leveret is a hare that is less than a year old.
**Guipuscoa is a province of spain and part of the Autonomous region of the Basque country; a cardon is a plant that is similar to a cactus. (Can anyone help me out here-I’m a bit at a loss myself.)