Monte Cristo Sandwiches (Croque-Monsieur)

Monte Cristo Sandwiches 2 (500x334)Croque Monsieur is a French sandwich that is basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Many times, it is topped with a cheese sauce.

I really like this version, which is dipped in an egg and milk mixture, just like french toast. The creamy, custardy bread with ham and gooey cheese in the middle is an incredible way to start your day. This is a great option for a quick dinner too. On those busy weekdays, breakfast for dinner is so much fun. 

Ingredients:

8 slices Challah, Italian or French bread

4-5 Tablespoons mustard

3-4 oz cheese (Mozzarella, Swiss, Grueyre, Gouda, Provolone, cheddar, etc), grated

8 thin slices of ham (you can also use other deli, such as turkey, chicken, bologna)

butter (to fry the sandwiches in)

Egg custard:

3 eggs

1 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Yields: 4 sandwiches

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice the bread into slices, about 1/2 inch thick. You will need 8 slices.

I really like to use challah bread for french toast. It is a Jewish egg bread, which soaks up the egg custard perfectly and cooks up into such an awesome texture, fluffy, creamy and yet doesn’t fall apart. If you can’t find challah bread, Italian bread works great too.

challah bread (500x334)Place the bread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast the bread in the oven for 5-7 minutes, flipping it over halfway through.

As you can see in the picture, the bread doesn’t really look much different. The point of “toasting” it, is to dry it out, not actually get any color on it.

Have you ever had French Toast where the custard is only on the outside of the bread and the center is just plain, dry bread? This is why. When the bread is dry, it will soak in the custard perfectly, all the way through the entire slice of bread.

IMG_2657 (500x333) (2)

IMG_2662 (500x330)

Spread a thin layer of mustard on each slice of bread. It will act like glue and hold all the filling ingredients in place.

If you don’t like mustard, you can use mayo or butter instead.

IMG_2664 (500x334)Place 1-2 slices of ham on one side of the bread and some grated cheese on the other slice of bread and gently smoosh the two slices of bread together.  IMG_2665 (500x329)Repeat will all the bread, ham and cheese. You can use all kinds of deli, cheese and herbs in this sandwich.

Mix the ingredients for the egg custard in a rimmed container with a whisk or fork, just until combined. IMG_2661 (500x328)Dip each sandwich in the egg custard, making sure that each side gets totally submerged for about 20-30 seconds each.

IMG_2672 (500x334)Melt  the butter on medium heat in a 10 inch skillet, stainless steel or cast iron, preferably.

If your skillet is not a really great quality skillet, don’t attempt to make french toast in it! Your sandwiches will stick to the skillet and you’ll create a messy glop. In that case use  a nonstick skillet.

Place two of the sandwiches in the skillet. IMG_2675 (500x334)Cover the skillet and cook on medium low heat until each side is golden brown.

IMG_2676 (500x334)If your skillet browns too quickly, place the sandwiches in a 300 degree oven and continue cooking until it cooks through in the center as well as on the outside. Monte Cristo Sandwiches 2 (500x334)

Monte Cristo Sandwich (500x334)Oh, yum! Look that that crunchy on the outside, creamy and gooey on the inside sandwich. A-MA-ZING.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches (Croque-Monsieur)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 slices Challah, Italian or French bread
  • 4-5 Tablespoons mustard
  • 3-4 oz cheese (Mozzarella, Swiss, Grueyre, Gouda, Provolone, cheddar, etc), grated
  • 8 thin slices of ham (you can also use other deli, such as turkey, chicken, bologna)
  • butter (to fry the sandwiches in)
Egg custard:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice the bread into slices, about ½ inch thick. You will need 8 slices. I really like to use challah bread for french toast. It is a Jewish egg bread, which soaks up the egg custard perfectly and cooks up into such an awesome texture, fluffy, creamy and yet doesn't fall apart. If you can't find challah bread, Italian bread works great too.
  3. Place the bread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast the bread in the oven for 5-7 minutes, flipping it over halfway through. The point of "toasting" it, is to dry it out, not actually get any color on it. Have you ever had French Toast where the custard is only on the outside of the bread and the center is just plain bread? This is why. When the bread is dry, it will soak in the custard perfectly.
  4. If you think ahead, slice the bread, place it on a cooling rack and leave it to dry overnight. You won't need to dry it in the oven.
  5. Spread a thin layer of mustard on each slice of bread. It will act like glue and hold all the filling ingredients in place. If you don't like mustard, you can use mayo or butter instead.
  6. Place 1-2 slices of ham on one side of the bread and some grated cheese on the other slice of bread and gently smoosh the two slices of bread together.
  7. Repeat will all the bread, ham and cheese. You can use all kinds of deli, cheese and herbs in this sandwich.
  8. Mix the ingredients for the egg custard in a rimmed container with a whisk or fork, just until combined.
  9. Dip each sandwich in the egg custard, making sure that each side gets totally submerged for about 20-30 seconds each.
  10. Melt the butter on medium heat in a 10 inch skillet, stainless steel or cast iron, preferably.
  11. If your skillet is not a really great quality skillet, don't attempt to make french toast in it! Your sandwiches will stick to the skillet and you'll create a messy glop. In that case use a nonstick skillet.
  12. Cover the skillet and cook on medium low heat until each side is golden brown.
  13. If your skillet browns too quickly, place the sandwiches in a 300 degree oven and continue cooking until it cooks through in the center as well as on the outside.

 
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Comments

  1. demelzabunny says

    This looks like a fabulous recipe, Olga! I’m going to make it for my son and husband.

    Did you know that challah is popular among Ukrainians and Poles? The fact that it was brought to the U.S. by Jews from these areas begs the question as to who came up with it first, but it sure doesn’t matter: people obviously recognize good bread when they taste it!

    • says

      Yep, it really is an awesome bread! One of my favorite snacks is a slice of toasted challah bread, with butter, a slice of cheese and a nice hot cup of tea.

  2. Oksana says

    These sandwiches look so appetizing!! I love a good warm sandwich with melted cheese. I must try! Thanks Olga :)

  3. says

    your ham looks very appetizing, what kind of ham do you use and where do you buy it. I love this kind of sandwich, definitely going to give it a try or many, he-he:-))

    • says

      Veronika,
      I honestly don’t remember what kind of ham I bought this particular time, but I know I bought it at Publix, a local grocery store. It might have been Black Forest ham, Tavern ham or just plain ham:).

    • says

      I used Mozzarella in the picture, but I’ve used many kids of cheeses for this sandwich in the past. As long as it melts well, you can use any kind that you like.

  4. Natasha says

    I made this for dinner! It’s delicious!
    Olya, Can I ask what brand is your skillet? I’m looking to buy a good skillet. Thanks!

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