This recipe is unique because it soaks the bread in a savoury custard before it goes into the oven. It’s Dominique’s take on a classic that he learned to make at his first kitchen job in France. His chef taught him, and they would eat it for family meal, and he’s been making them this way for more than 20 years now.


Ingredients

For the béchamel 

For the custard

For the sandwich

Directions

1Preheat oven to 175°C.

2Make the béchamel sauce. In a pot, warm the milk (make sure it doesn’t boil). In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for 30 seconds over medium heat until the mixture becomes dough-like. Stream the warm milk into the butter-flour mixture in three increments, whisking continuously until smooth. Let boil for 1 minute. Stir in the shredded gruyère cheese, mixing until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then pour the mixture into a shallow dish, cover in plastic and place in fridge to let cool for about 2-3 hours.

3Make the custard. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of milk and a pinch of nutmeg, whisk in 4 large eggs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool in the fridge.

4To assemble the sandwich, dip each slice of bread in the custard. Spread a layer of the béchamel sauce on one slice of bread, add 4 slices of ham, 2 slices of gruyère, top with another slice of bread. On the top, spread another layer of béchamel and finish with 2 more slices of gruyère. Bake in oven for 10 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. This is sandwich that has been around in the U.S. at least since the 1930s and is known eponymously as a “Monte Cristo” in honor of the Count who escaped hidden in a sack, because if after you assemble the sandwich you dip it once more into the custard, the coating hides the sandwich’s contents and the finished product looks like a brown bag. Of course soaking bread in custard dates much farther back to a fifth-century Latin cookbook, but as sweet “pain perdu” or as the savory “Monte Cristo”, the result is delicious.

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