I have a craving. It is a craving deeply rooted in the American reinvention of French food. I have a craving that one day this exploration of bites and nibbles will rise up and live out the true meaning of it’s creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all cuisines are created equal.” I have a hankering that one day, on the red dirt of Oklahoma soil, American stove tops and American ovens will one day be able to work together in the pursuit of a bountiful table. I have a craving that one day even the French cuisine of hallowed pasts, a cuisine sweltering in the haute couteaux spread thin by tenures of grandeur, basking in the gloire of son propre histoire, will be transformed into an appetite of freedom and self-abandonment. I have a craving…
It is the spirit of this craving that I bring you: Monte Cristo Bites. The Monte Cristo is a variation on the Croque Monsieur, with some minor differences. First, the farther Midwest you travel, the more likely you are to see Turkey on a Monte Cristo. Second, the French might top their Croque Monsieurs with a fried egg, thereby delivering an entirely new invention called the Croque Madame. Americans, however, might dust theirs with powdered sugar. Generally speaking, Southerners and Midwesterners like their Monte Cristos fried and served with sweet preserves, such as Raspberry or Grape jam; whereas, New Englanders tend to grill their Monte Cristos and serve them with spicy honey mustard. In the interest of culture, let’s mix and match, shall we!
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Serving Size: 3 for the guests, 1 for the chef!
For the Monte Cristo Bites
1 slice of your favorite sandwich bread, crusts removed, flattened with a rolling pin
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 slice of Swiss Cheese (if serving with Mustard) or Gouda Cheese (if serving with Preserves)
2 slices of deli honey ham
2 slices of deli turkey
For the Batter
1 tablespoon of egg beaters
2 tablespoons evaporated milk
2 tablespoons Hungry Jack® Complete Buttermilk Pancake Mix (the Just Add Water kind)
1/32 teaspoon of salt
1/64 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
For the Frying Pan: A tasteless canola or peanut oil
For Dusting: Powdered Sugar
For Serving: Inglehoffer Spicy Honey Mustard
1. Remove the crusts from the bread and flatten with a rolling pin. Lightly coat one side of the bread with Dijon mustard, top with your favorite slice of cheese and alternate the ham and turkey. Starting from the top and working towards the bottom, roll the bread into a cylinder, wrap in saran wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Chilling these puppies for a short time will help prevent breakage during frying!
2. Batter: For the batter, mix all ingredients in a small mixing bowl until smooth.
3. Preheat the oil in a small-medium saucepan. You will need the oil to be at least 1″ deep (enough to fry half of a monte cristo bite at a time).
4. Shaping: Cut the bread in half. Next, cut each half in half leaving you with 4 equally sized bites. Secure the tails of each bite with a toothpick.
5. Fry the bites individually, moving them about constantly to prevent the bites from sticking to the bottom of the pan. They are ready when they are golden brown on all sides.
6. Gently dust with powdered sugar and serve with a good honey mustard or your favorite preserves.