The Brunch Club Sandwich or Monte Cristo
Does anyone remember the restaurant chainBennigan's? This was my favorite restaurant as a kid and I thought they closed down over a decade ago. Apparently, there are two locations left in Maryland. I can't believe it! Thanks Google for giving me the heads up. It's been at least 15 years since I've been inside a Bennigan's. My mouth waters for their perfectly seasoned fries. Most everyone I knew dug the Turkey O'Tool because of the pretzel bun. I was more of the "let's batter and deep fry a ham, turkey and cheese sandwich, dust it with powdered sugar and smother it in raspberry jam" kind of girl. Heavy on the raspberry jam, please. Mmmm, Bennigan's Monte Cristo Sandwich.
Crazy enough, both sandwiches are still on the menu!
Since I live in the dark and didn't realize there was a Bennigan's a mere 64 miles away from me, I gave up on the idea of ever having this sandwich again. I am not a super huge fan of deep frying in my own home for two reasons: grease ends up everywhere and it's near impossible to maintain the right temperature over a gas stove. If I had an electric fryer with a temperature setting, I might be more inclined to fry my own Monte Cristo Sandwich. Or maybe not, a button just popped off my jeans just for having the thought.
Now that I know Bennigan's is still in existance, I'm thinking ROAD TRIP! I'll wear my yoga pants and go for a bike ride before and afterwards.
I know your not here for a Bennigan's review, let me get to the point for the Brunch Club Sandwich. I hosted a Mother's Day brunch a few years ago and came across a Rachel Ray's version of the Monte Cristo Sandwich. Unlike the Bennigan's version, this was not deep fried, but made with French toast and bacon. SOLD!
This is the perfect sandwich for any time of the day and even better when you make it with leftovers. After Thanksgiving this year, how about use up the leftover ham, turkey and cranberry sauce for a yummy sandwich worth every calorie.
THE BRUNCH CLUB OR MONTE CRISTO SANDWICH:
4 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup of half and half
1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
1 loaf of Trader Joe's brioche sliced bread
10 slices of thick cut bacon, cooked
6 slices of havarti cheese or Swiss cheese
6 slices of deli ham or left over spiral ham
6 slices of left over Bourbon Glazed Turkey Breast or any sliced turkey
6-8 tablespoons of whole cranberry sauce or raspberry jam
6-8 teaspoons of Dijon mustard*
*I used to work in a cafe for a few a years and put this sandwich on the specials board for breakfast one day. I made one up for everyone to try. One of my co-workers made a funny face when I told her there was Dijon mustard on the sandwich. It took some convincing, but she gave it a try. After that bite, she became the sandwich's biggest fan. Moral of the story, don't skimp out on the Dijon mustard!
In my opinion, the best way to cook bacon is in the oven. The bacon stays flat, you can make a large amount at one time, grease doesn't end up all over the place and clean up is a breeze.
Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Lay the bacon on the tray and slide them in the oven until desired crispiness. The time will depend on how thick cut your bacon is. Check every ten minutes for doneness.
Transfer the cooked bacon onto a paper towel. Once the grease on the pan has cooled, ball up the foil and toss it in the garbage. For more environmentally conscious folks, check the internet for hundreds of interesting ways to reuse bacon grease.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, half & half and grated nutmeg.
Stack the meats and cheese onto a plate. Have your cranberry sauce and Dijon mustard on hand too. Once you start cooking, you will want everything at arm's length.
Fire up a cast iron pan or grill plate to medium heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and let it melt. Meanwhile, dip the bread in the custard and carefully place it in the hot pan. Each sandwich calls for two pieces of French toast. If you can only fit four pieces of toast, work in batches. I have 2 sandwiches working in the pan.
Once the bottoms of each sllice of bread are golden brown, flip the bread over and start building your sandwich.
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 1/2 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon of cranberry sauce
Once the other side of the bread is golden brown, use it to top the cranberries and close the sandwich. If you need more time for the cheese to melt, flip the sandwich once or twice and use a lid to trap in some of the heat.
Cut each sandwich in half, dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with maple syrup and serve with breakfast potatoes. Rosemary smashed potatoeswould be a delicious compliment. Seen below are my husbands pan fried red potatoes and onions.