A sandwich fit for a count: how to make a monte cristo

finishedA monte cristo is basically a ham and cheese sandwich on French toast. With powdered sugar. And jam. And you have to use delicious cheese. And also turkey. OK, you know what, a monte cristo is so much more than a ham and cheese sandwich on French toast. It has changed our lives and it can change yours too.

It all started many moons ago…Sam used to love getting the monte cristo at Bennigan’s. Now, really, that was an entirely different affair, more like a triangular funnel cake stuffed with ham and cheese. After the Bennigan’s chain folded (how could they fold, with such an item on their menu?), I came up with the idea of trying to make monte cristos ourselves. But over the years, Sam is the one who has perfected the art.

Now, there are many branches of monte cristianity. Some believe you should assemble the whole sandwich, then dip it all in batter and fry it up. Others make the French toast first, then pile the stuff on top, stick it under a broiler, and serve it open face. I have had some very unfortunate experiences myself with trying to paint the batter on the bread with a pastry brush after it was already on the griddle. (Why? I have no idea. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.)

Sam is a purist. He cooks every piece individually and builds the sandwich as he goes.


First, mix up some egg batter, just like you would for French toast: an egg or two, a splash of milk, some cinnamon and vanilla if you like that kind of thing. Dip both sides of the bread and toss it down on the griddle to brown.


In the meantime, start frying up some ham and turkey slices in a pan.


After you flip the toast, put a slice of cheese on to melt. We used Havarti this time. You can use whatever you want except Kraft American slices. They have their place, but that place is not here. It’s up to you if you want cheese on only one side of your sandwich or (gasp!) both sides.

When the cheese is nice and melty, use tongs (or your fingers if you are really fast) to layer the ham and turkey on top of the cheese. Then add the other slice of bread on top.

Let it toast a little while longer, and flip it a couple of times and press down on it with your spatula just to be really thorough.


Cut your sandwich into triangles (it has to be triangles), slather with strawberry or raspberry jam (or dish it up on the side for dipping) and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Voilá! Yeah, the jam is in a shot glass. And in the background there is a fork with a chunk of butter stuck on the end. Just focus on the sandwich.


8 thoughts on “A sandwich fit for a count: how to make a monte cristo

    • Definitely give it a try! I’m amazed that the monte cristo is new to so many people. I wonder if it’s a regional thing. Google suggests that it was first introduced in the ’60s at a Disneyland restaurant!

      • Wow really? Kudos to the chefs over at Disneyland! I’ve actually heard of a monte cristo before but I had only known it as a grilled ham and cheese, Nothing like this!

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