Monte Cristo Sandwiches

When I was in college, Bennigan’s was one of our frequent dinner spots. For one, there was a Bennigan’s in each of the malls where we shopped the most. For another, we were all pretty broke, and the food was relatively cheap.

There were also these Monte Cristo sandwiches.

monte cristo

Our friend Sarah swore they were delicious, but Leah and I were hard to convince. The sandwich itself is basic turkey, ham, and cheese on white bread. The special part is that it’s battered and fried, then dusted with powdered sugar. Bennigan’s serves the sandwich with a sauce made of raspberry preserves.

For the longest time, it didn’t sound like anything I wanted to eat. I couldn’t quite place it, but it just sounded all wrong. Too many flavors going on. Raspberry jam  and a turkey sandwich? I was definitely not on board. (It didn’t help that Sarah had tried to recreate this “treat” in our school cafeteria with some collection of french toast, turkey, and generic grape jelly). Finally, somehow, she convinced us to try it, and we had to admit we were wrong. It’s delicious.

It really is.

I use pancake mix for the batter, and deep fry a turkey, ham, and cheese sandwich, like I said. We use good quality raspberry preserves for the dipping sauce. The sandwich is a great blend of salty and sweet, which I enjoy. One thing I never seem to remember is that half a sandwich is really enough for anyone, so we always end up with too many. The recipe below tastes exactly like the Bennigan’s original. With it being deep-fried, I certainly wouldn’t recommend this as an all-the-time thing, but it’s grate for a treat, and definitely worth the trouble.

Deep Fried Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Serves 4

  • 4 slices of white sandwich bread (you want the slices that are a bit longer than your standard wonder bread square–more rectangle shaped)
  • 4 oz deli turkey, sliced thin
  • 4 oz deli ham, sliced thin
  • 4 slices medium cheddar cheese
  • Vegetable Oil, for deep frying
  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves, for dipping
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, for dusting
  • 1 cup pancake batter, prepared according to package directions (I use a Just-Add-Water mix, and it works just fine)

1. Heat your cooking oil in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed pot. When the surface starts to shimmer, add a couple of drops of the pancake batter. If it bubbles and starts to brown at the edges, the oil is ready–if it sinks to the bottom, wait a few minutes longer and try again.

2. While the oil is heating, assemble the sandwiches. I made each sandwich with 2 ounces of turkey, 2 ounces of ham, and 2 slices of cheese. You want to assemble the sandwiches so that the cheese  is closest to the bread slices, which will help the sandwich stay together when you fry it. Cut each sandwich in half along a diagonal.

3. Dip each sandwich half in the prepared pancake batter, turning to coat. It will be thick–that’s okay. Carefully drop each sandwich into the deep fryer or prepared oil to fry.  Sandwiches will float as they fry, and take about 6 or 7 minutes to fry completely. Be sure to turn them once about halfway through, so that both sides get golden brown and crisp. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, and sprinkle the hot sandwiches with powdered sugar. Serve with warmed raspberry preserves on the side for dipping.

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7 Responses to “Monte Cristo Sandwiches”

  1. Jeff Gasikowski

    Well, I like it! I mean, what’s not to like? Turkey, good. Cheese, good. Deep fried, good!

  2. Myth

    The Monte Cristo is one sandwich that I have never liked. I agree with the above comment: all three of those things are good yet I don’t like them together in this fashion. Could just be one of my oddities.

  3. Mom

    These were awesome and I usually don’t like things that are mixed together. When can I have them again, Teri?

  4. Teri

    @Jeff

    You come to my blog, quote Friends at me, and forget to mention the jam? Just kidding, of course.

    @Myth

    I understand–it took me so long to get on board, I can’t judge anyone for not liking them. Though David was skeptical, and he liked it. I made his with Proscuitto and Fresh Mozzarella, because he won’t eat ham.

    @Mom

    I don’t know–because whenever you come over you want something new. How about I make them for PawPaw’s party with bologna and wax colby cheese. And, um, spreadable mustard? Yeah–I’m not doing that.

  5. Ysobel

    I want to try these. I’ll try anything once 🙂

  6. SallyD

    At what degree do you heat your oil?

  7. Teri

    @SallyD:

    I don’t have a thermometer for my cooking oil, but the description above works out pretty well. If you follow the instructions, you’ll get a good sense of when the oil is ready.

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