February 3, 2012 by jooshanoosh
Earlier in the week Ken said that he wanted to know “How to Make a Meal that Would Impress Anyone.” When I read that I thought to myself “I love to cook. What meal would I make to impress anyone?” And then it hit me, my go-to show-stopper meal.
The Monte Cristo.
|Image from Disney.com|
“What is a Monte Cristo?” you might be saying. And I pity you if you are saying that. Get this: It is a batter-dipped and deep fried ham, turkey and Swiss sandwich that is sprinkled with powdered sugar and dipped in currant (or raspberry) jam.
I was first introduce to this wonder of wonder at Disneyland as a teenager. They serve it in the Blue Bayou restaurant (that’s the one you can see inside Pirates of the Caribbean) and some friends and I were dining there one day. I, of course, ordered it and it, of course, rocked my teenage world.
As a college student when I was an intern at Disney World (why this sandwich is connected to Disney in my life is inexplicable, except that it is Magical.) the only restaurant we could reach without a car was a Bennigan’s. They serve pub food like chicken fingers and patty melts. But they also serve a Monte Cristo. We dined on it many times.
I had long wanted to create it at home, so googled a few recipes, made some tweaks and have perfected it over the years. It does indeed impress and is oft requested at book clubs, birthday parties and gatherings of friends. Don’t be fooled by recipes that are some sort of weird sandwich made with french toast. That, my friends, is a sacrilege and not a Monte Cristo. You need this baby deep fired.
- 8 pieces of white sandwich bread (I sometimes use the “Texas Toast” kind if I want the sandwiches to be nice even squares.)
- 4 pieces of ham, turkey and Swiss cheese.
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 cups of water
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp of black pepper (or white pepper if you have that kind of thing and are concerned about black flecks in your batter.)
- Powdered sugar
- Currant (or more likely raspberry) jam
- Prepare sandwiches with bread, turkey, ham and Swiss. Cut each sandwich into two triangles and secure each triangle with a toothpick.
- Whisk the eggs, flour, water, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. The batter should be about the consistency of pancake batter. Add flour or water as needed.
- Pour the oil in a big dutch oven and heat over med-high heat. You are looking for about 350°. For many years I did this part in an eclectic fryer. Don’t bother. It is just as easy to heat the oil in a pot and much easier to clean up.
- Dip each sandwich half in batter, coating all sides and then drop in hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan, yo! Just do a sandwich or tow at a time.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until brown and puffy.
- Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Remove the toothpick, or at the very least warn your guest that it is there so no one gets stabbed in the uvula.
- Sprinkle warm sandwich with powdered sugar and jam for dipping.