This Old Style Monte Cristo recipe is a riff on a classic. Monte Cristos are pan-fried ham and cheese sandwiches. This one uses old style mustard and raspberry jam for balance in every bite.
Monte Cristos make me think of Chicago. I went to art school there while my brother was in graduate school there. Almost every Sunday, we would go climbing and grab a fun bite to eat. We’re both foodie-types, so our restaurant choices were almost always decisive and yet so much fun.
A couple of times, we were too hungry to decide in our usual choosey format. For this one brunch restaurant, we just glanced at the menu and decided yeah, ok, sure, whatever. We sat outside…and if you’ve ever been to Chicago on a beautiful day, you know how gorgeous that city can be. (If you’ve been there on a cold and dreary day, I’m so sorry).
Why a good Monte Cristo is the best
I ordered a Monte Cristo. I had no idea what it was at the time. When it came to the table, I had a few thoughts. First of all, I thought I was just getting a ham and cheese sandwich. Second of all, this sandwich was decadent…it was covered in powdered sugar and looked like a dessert. Third of all and most important of all, it was absolutely delicious.
Over the years, I’ve contemplated why this Monte Cristo was the sandwich I dreamed of when I thought of the ultimate sandwich. And so, I have compiled a list:
- Fluffy white bread makes good french toast. So for this sandwich, use the fluffiest bread you can find.
- There were globs of jam inside of the sandwich. VERY important. This means that every bite has fruity, jammy sweetness.
- There was no turkey. Why do people put turkey in Monte Cristos? It’s just wrong. Stick to ham, people. I just can’t believe that turkey can add anything to this sandwich but height.
- There was tastier cheese than Swiss cheese on it. Maybe this is sacrilegious of me to say, but why just stick to Swiss when there are more round-flavored cheeses out there?! I add gruyere to my recipe.
- Lastly, there’s balancing acidity from the mustard. Because of that, we have a beautiful trinity that has been created: mustardy acidity + jammy sweetness + savory ham and cheese.
Overall, I think this Old Style Monte Cristo is the best sandwich ever. It’s French toast with a sandwich trinity in the center. Nothing gets better than that.
Old style mustard makes this recipe have a depth that other mustards just can’t provide! The grainy texture brings out the creaminess of the ham and cheese on crispy toasty bread. Yum.
If you make this recipe, please comment and rate the recipe below! I love hearing from you all. Also, you can tag me on Instagram @higheralchemybaking with your creation!
Old Style Monte Cristo
- Cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan
- Sheet pan
For egg mixture
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk (of your choice)
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- 4 slices white bread
- 2 teaspoons old style mustard
- 2 teaspoons raspberry jam
- Salt and pepper
- 2 slices gruyere cheese
- 4 slices Swiss cheese, divided
- 4 slices deli-style ham
- 1 tablespoon butter (for pan)
For serving (optional)
- Raspberry jam
- Powdered sugar, sifted
- Whisk all of the ingredients for the egg mixture in a shallow, wide bowl. Set aside.
- Make the sandwiches. Lay out your bread slices. Divide 2 teaspoons of mustard for two slices and the 2 teaspoons of raspberry jam to the other two slices. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the mustard slices.
- For each mustard covered bread slice, place the following: 1 slice of gruyere, 1 slice of Swiss cheese, 2 slices of ham, 1 slice of Swiss cheese. Lay the raspberry jam covered bread slices over the layered sandwich centers.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F or 205°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Heat a non-stick pan or cast-iron skillet. Place the tablespoon of butter in the pan and allow it to melt and bubble.
- Carefully dip both sides of each sandwich in the egg mixture for 5 seconds on each side, firmly holding the layers in place.
- Place the sandwiches in the pan. After 3-4 minutes, use a spatula to lightly lift the bottom of one sandwich, checking for browning. If it’s browned (like a French toast), use the bottom spatula and another spatula on top of the sandwiches to flip them quickly, firmly holding the layers in place. Using a spatula, press down on the top of the sandwiches for a few seconds.
- After 3-4 minutes, check for browning again. When they’re done, transfer the sandwiches to the baking sheet and place in the oven for 5-10 minutes, checking every minute or so for fully melted cheese or your preferred doneness.
- When the sandwiches are to your liking, serve each one sliced in half diagonally, preferably with a dollop of jam on the side and topped with sifted powdered sugar.
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