Thursday, August 19, 2010

Monte! Cristo! Sandwiches!

On birthdays, the person whose birth is being celebrated gets to choose what dinner shall be. It can be anything: Dining out, take out, fast food, or something I cook. This year, CJ chose mom-made Monte Cristo sandwiches.

Stop right there, because I know what you're thinking. Entire sandwiches coated in egg, deep fried in oil, and then served with sugar and a side of jam? Have the crash cart on standby! Jesus take the wheel! Somebody call FLOTUS! But all things in moderation, kids. I make these maybe once every couple of years. There's also this thing about how three years ago, when last I made these, I lifted one out of the pan and hot oil ran down the inside of the tongs into my hand. Hot oil. My hand. That kind of thing will stay with you.

Anyway. I didn't take a lot of photos, but I did snap a couple of progress photos to share the recipe with you. I'm pretty sure I learned how to make these from my mom.

Monte! Cristo! Sandwiches!

Assemble your sandwiches! One slice of bread. One slice of cheese. Five slices of ham. Five slices of turkey. One more slice of cheese. One more slice of bread. What you have now looks a lot like a boring old sandwich! But wait, there's more!

Make two diagonal cuts across the sandwich so that you have four triangles. Now: Three toothpicks per triangle. No more! No less!

Crack your eggs into a bowl, and beat them well. Pour a few inches of oil into your pan (use one with high sides, please), affix your candy thermometer, and set about heating your oil to 360 degrees.

Checklist: Is your oil hot? Is the bowl of beaten egg directly next to it but not on the heat? Is your pile o'sandwiches directly next to the egg? Congratulations! Let's cook our sandwiches!

Add a sandwich to the egg, turn it all around to coat, drip off the excess, and carefully place it in the hot oil. The size of my pot allows me to cook an entire sandwich (four triangles) without letting the oil drop below 350, but ymmv.

Turn them once (I like to use tongs. Yes, still.) and fry until you've achieved allover GBD. Remove to whatever your drying rig may be (I put down a cutting board, cover it with a kitchen towel, and cover the towel with a layer of paper towels. People smarter than me use a rack over newspaper on a sheet pan.) and rest until they are no longer too hot to handle (but not too cold to hold).

Now it's time to serve. Arrange your sandwiches on a plate, and then dust them with powdered sugar. Add a side of raspberry jam (I like to use a monkey dish (as pictured) but I won't tell anyone if you want to just plop some on the plate.

Now, recite the following to each diner as they receive their plate:

There are three toothpicks in every sandwich. Three. No more. No less. Count each toothpick as you remove it, verifying that there are indeed three toothpicks per triangle. Not more. Not less. We will not be going to the emergency room tonight because you have impaled the roof of your mouth on a Toothpick of Carelessness. Understand? Good. Enjoy.