Ooey, gooey, decadent, kind of crazy … this meatless Monte Cristo is definitely that. Bunny food, no. Unless your bunny happens to love uber-cheesy bliss in the form of a rich, golden brown, batter-dipped grilled cheese sandwich.
Monte Cristos are an intriguing sandwich. Quick, oh-so scintillating history lesson: They’re generally considered to be a variation of the French Croque Monsieur, really coming into their own in the 1950’s or thereabouts, when Disneyland started offering them in their restaurants.
The typical Monte Cristo has ham and turkey and cheese (Gruyere or Swiss). Then it’s dipped into a French toast-like egg batter, and fried until golden brown and melty. It’s served with–get this–powdered sugar sprinkled over the top. And fruit preserves. Like red currant jelly or strawberry jam.
To make a meatless version, I thought I would forgo the meat substitutes and instead use a second cheese–smoked cheddar to be exact–to give the smoky flavor the meat would normally lend to the sandwich. When I first tested it, I wasn’t completely sure it would work, but it did! Hallelujah!
For the batter, I basically use my standard French toast recipe, omitting the vanilla, which just didn’t feel right to me. But I do go a little heavier on the nutmeg. I think it works perfectly with all that glorious cheese.
It’s a big, giant, slightly smoky, melty, golden-brown, lightly sweet grilled cheese that’s just basically heaven, especially when dipped into a little strawberry jam.
Total comfort food. Totally not health food.
Note: I use Tillamook cheese in this sandwich, and almost exclusively otherwise. The cheeses in this Monte Cristo–and most all of Tillamook’s cheeses–are made with vegetable rennet.
A Monte Cristo for the meatless bunch. Smoked cheddar and Swiss melted between layers of egg-battered bread, and then fried until golden brown and perfectly melty. And then it's served with strawberry jam. Yes, seriously!
- 4 slices Artisan sourdough bread
- 2 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
- 3 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Confectioner's sugar and strawberry jam for serving
- Lay two pieces of bread flat and place the cheese slices on top, keeping the cheese inside the border of the bread. Top each with a second slice of bread.
- In a flat 8x8 baking dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, salt, and nutmeg.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. One at a time, carefully set the sandwiches in the batter for a couple of seconds each, then turn once to coat the other side. Transfer to the skillet, taking care to hold the sandwiches together.
- Cook the sandwiches until the cheese begins to melt and the bread turns golden, 3-4 minutes. Carefully flip the sandwiches over and use a spatula to gently press them down, concentrating on the edges to help seal them a bit. Cook until the second side is browned and the cheese is completely melted.
- Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and cut them in half. Set on plates and dust lightly with confectioner's sugar, if desired. Serve with strawberry jam for dipping.