The first Monte Cristo sandwich of my life happened earlier this year, when we ate lunch at the Crater Lake Lodge. National park lodges serve notoriously mediocre food, as we’ve learned on our one-national-park-per-year quest. Somehow, I figured a cheesy, hammy sandwich, dipped in egg, then fried up like french toast wouldn’t be as offensive as a bowl of soup that originated from a can or a salad that fell like confetti out of a giant plastic bag.
I was right–the Crater Lake Lodge Monte Cristo was quite passable, especially after jumping in the ice cold lake and hiking back up to the rim. Since ham isn’t on my list of favorite ingredients, I decided to attempt my own Monte Cristo at home, using Prosciutto di Parma instead. Prosciutto, while technically ham, receives special dispensation among pig products in my book.
My Monte Cristo with Prosciutto relies on just a small amount of prosciutto to add its salty, assertive flavor, which is how I like it: more flavor, less meat. It is so good. Salty prosciutto, creamy cheese, tangy Dijon mustard, sourdough bread, sweet egg, and a dusting of powdered sugar–doesn’t this sound perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack?
Ok, so my house doesn’t have a view of Crater Lake, but we can daydream while munching on sandwiches.
Monte Cristo Sandwich with Prosciutto
Yield: 4 sandwiches
8 slices sourdough bread or good white bread
Jarlsberg cheese or a nice Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
Prosciutto di Parma, 8 slices
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter
Arrange the 8 slices of bread on a cutting board and spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on one side of each slice. On 4 of the bread slices, arrange a layer of cheese slices, then two slices of Prosciutto di Parma, then another layer of cheese, then top them with the other 4 slices of bread.
In a large liquid measuring cup or similar vessel, whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until well-blended. Pour the egg mixture into a shallow bowl or a plate with a high enough rim to hold the mixture. Dip each sandwich into the egg mixture, coating both sides.
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until melted and a little bubbly. Add the sandwiches, then cook them until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Flip the sandwiches and cook until lightly browned on the second side.
Remove the sandwiches from the skillet and dust them with powdered sugar before serving.