Here is the American cousin of the French "croque monsieur" and the British "toastie." If, unlike the main character in the time-honored story, you have yet to find your treasure on the island of Monte Cristo, this sandwich is the next best thing.
To celebrate the classic novel's spirit of adventure and travel, I add Chinese five spice to the batter for extra sweet and savory appeal.
FUN FACT: I got hooked on Monte Cristos when I was still in high school at a San Antonio restaurant called JoJo’s (that ain’t there no more) – where I also learned to love cottage fries as a side with this, and plenty of strawberry preserves on top!
This one is a WTTG TV DC (and now website) exclusive. You won't see it in my best-selling cookbook however there are of course plenty of other great rib-sticking recipes throughout!
Count of Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Makes 4 servings
4 large eggs
1/4 cup half and half
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices thick sliced bread, white or sourdough
At least 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I love Blue Plate)
At least 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 ounces (1 cup) Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 pound, (or about 8 hearty) slices, cooked ham
At least 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, or 4 tablespoons) butter, divided
Powdered sugar and strawberry preserves, for presentation
In a wide, shallow dish, whisk eggs, milk, Chinese five spice, salt, pepper.
Lay out your slices of bread. Spread mustard on 4, mayo on other 4. Distribute half the cheese over 4 bread slices, top with ham, top each with other half cheese. Close sandwiches.
Depending on the size of your non-stick or cast iron pan, cook one or two sandwiches at a time. Dip each sandwich in egg mixture for about a minute per side.
In pan, over medium-high heat, melt 1 to 2 tablespoons butter per sandwich. Fry sandwiches, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Set aside on rack or place on sheet pan in 225°F oven to warm. Repeat for remaining sandwiches with remaining butter.
Serve topped with a dusting of powdered sugar and plenty of strawberry preserves. Cottage fries are a nice side for these sandwiches every time of day, or, omit the sugar and preserves and whip up a tossed vinaigrette salad of arugula and sliced grape tomatoes to accompany at dinnertime!
As seen on WTTG Fox5 Good Day DC's LION (Like It Or Not!) Lunch Hour! April 4, 2023.