The thoroughly, lovably weird Monte Cristo seems like one of those kosher impossibilities: a ham and/or turkey and cheese sandwich fried like French toast and served with, just for good measure, powdered sugar and raspberry jam. Well, I kasherized it. Here's how to make a completely kosher and still entirely weird (in the best way) Monte Cristo sandwich.
The mysterious origins of the Monte Cristo stump even the internet, which fails to turn up any reliable leads on its earliest appearance. It appears to be an American restaurant riff on the Croque Monsieur, and indeed it smacks of the wacky, over-the-top Americanization of an already decadent but more sedate French concept. In any case, there is canon to the Monte Cristo: it has ham, sometimes turkey, and cheese, usually Swiss, tucked inside a sandwich, battered like French toast, and fried or grilled. Then, it's sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with raspberry jam.
It would seem inherently impossible to make a kosher Monte Cristo sandwich, and my initial thought was simply to omit the meat and make it entirely with cheese. I mean, a French toasted grilled cheese served with jam is plenty weird, right? At the last minute, however, I hit upon the cured nature of smoked salmon, not unlike smoked turkey breast or cured ham. Lox has served me well before when ham is called for, in Galettes Brretonnes and the aforementioned Croque Monsieur/Madame. And the results? Amazingly like the Monte Cristos of yore.
It seems like it would be messy to make a Monte Cristo, but it actually obliges you in all the shenanigans involved. Just make up the sandwich with the lox and cheese inside, then batter both side with the milk and egg mixture and pan fry until golden and crisped on both sides. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and do not under any circumstances omit the jam, it's magic.
This recipe makes two sandwiches, and has the optional-but-recommended addition of smoked gouda for extra umami.