A Monte Cristo sandwich is a ham and cheese sandwich with a layer of strawberry jam, that is then egg-dipped and pan-fried in butter. The sweet and savory flavors, along with the melty cheese and crispy bread are heavenly.
I’ve only had a Monte Cristo once, but I remember it well. My stepfather had come to Santa Barbara, California, where I was attending college, and he took me to lunch at a well known Mexican restaurant downtown called El Paseo, which was housed in a popular fiesta venue known for its retractable ceiling. I found this photo on Pinterest!
How I came to choose the Monte Cristo sandwich that day is beyond me, but I loved the flavor combinations.
The traditional Monte Cristo sandwich recipe is generally the following:
Firm sandwich bread slices
Sliced Swiss cheese
Jambon de Bayonne or other good thinly-sliced ham
Strawberry jam (not preserves) or red currant jelly
Mayo mixed with some whole-grain mustard
Eggs whisked for dipping
Butter for pan frying
The Monte Cristo is always sliced in half before serving, so the beautiful layers show, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. This photo is from Bon Appetit, although it doesn’t show the layers.
Thanks to general pandemic googling, I came across Monte Cristo Crêpes from Serious Eats, by Morgan Eisenberg, WOW! I was so excited to make these. From the recipe’s creator, whose blog is Host the Toast: “It’s a masterpiece of the sweet-and-savory genre, and it turns out it’s just as good in crepe form.”
Monte Cristo Crêpes
adapted by Morgan Eisenberg
1/2 cup strawberry jam (not preserves)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 basic crêpes, unsweetened
6 slices Havarti cheese
Grated Gruyere, about 6 ounces
12 thin slices deli ham*
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Confectioners’ sugar, to dust
Assorted berries, for garnish (optional)
In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk together jelly and mustard. Spread a thin, even layer of the jelly mixture over each of 6 crêpes. Warm first if necessary.
Top each crêpe with 1 slice of each cheese and then layer the ham on top of the cheese.
Sprinkle some grated Gruyere around the outside of each crêpe to help everything to hold together – about 1 ounce each. I used my microwave on a very low setting to just get the cheese warm and slightly melted in order to hold the crêpes together before continuing with the recipe.
Roll the crepe up tightly and and set seam-side down. Press gently. Repeat for remaining crepes.
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, egg yolk and salt. Have a non-stick skillet over medium heat, starting with about 2 tablespoons of butter melting. Using your fingers, briefly dip a crêpe into the egg mixture. Allow excess to drip off and transfer to the skillet, seam-side down.
Fry crepes until golden all over, turning once. Everything is already cooked, so you’re just looking for some nice browning.
Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining crepes, frying one or two at a time and adding butter as needed.
Serve any remaining jam-Dijon mixture.
Dust crepes with powdered sugar, if desired.
Serve warm with berries. See the beautiful layers?
I might have made these extra cheesy, because the cheese “juice” as my husband calls it, just poured out of these!
But so did the cheese, which was lovely.
I have a lot of experience with crêpes, but with all of the ooziness, I didn’t think they looked very pretty free-form. I might make these again more in casserole form, even though I detest that word! I also think larger diameter crepes would have been easier to manage.
*Since I used Serrano ham, which is similar to prosciutto, I only used 6 slices total.