Here's something I didn't really "get" until recently: The classic Monte Cristo is a double decker sandwich made with layers of ham, turkey, swiss cheese and usually jam. It's battered and deep fried and served with a dusting of confectioner's sugar. Oh my goodness. That's really the way it's supposed to be. Of course, you don't need to go the killer sandwich route to get a very similar delicious experience.
There are just as many "less-elaborate" recipe versions of this sandwich hanging around the internet. Some actually don't resemble a traditional Monte Cristo at all, but plenty are great, calling for pan-frying (so much easier than attempting to submerge a double layer sandwich in batter and hot oil). The recipe I put together treats the bread like French toast to create a crisp exterior and soft interior.
You could fry it butter, more like a grilled cheese sandwich, but I keep it pretty healthy. I also don't bother with two types of meat because I absolutely love the ham and gruyere combination. The addition of some slightly chunky, high-quality jam takes that combo to another level, where sweet and savory are joined in harmony. So simple, so good and I don't even need powdered sugar.
This is perfect with leftover holiday ham, if you're the type to buy a half or whole spiral cut ham just so you can cook with the leftovers. Of course, it doesn't have to be the holidays to do this. Avoid basic deli ham unless you know it's really good.
Makes 2 sandwiches
Fruit jam, such as blackberry or raspberry
4 slices Aunt Annie’s Potato Sandwich Bread
4 to 6 oz baked ham
2 oz (approx.) Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
2 large eggs
3 tbsp milk or half and half
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1) To make each sandwich, spread one slice bread with Dijon and another slice with jam. Top Dijon side with ham and Gruyere; cover with jam side.
2) In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and black pepper until combined.
3) Preheat one or two heavy skillets on medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Dip each sandwich one side at a time (try not to coat inside of the sandwiches) in the egg mixture, allowing bread to absorb to absorb egg for a brief moment. Transfer to skillet and cook until bread is toasted and golden brown and cheese is melted, turning once. Cover the skillet with a lid to help the cheese melt and adjust heat as necessary to prevent over browning; the second side will cook more quickly. Cut sandwiches in half on the diagonal and serve immediately.