These copycat sweet-meets-savory Disneyland favorite sandwiches are made with rich challah bread stuffed with ham, turkey and cheese, then fried, dusted in powdered sugar, and dipped in jam!
I wish I could remember the first time I ever tried a Monte Cristo sandwich. I know it was at Disneyland and I’m guessing it was before I was 12 because the memory feels like one of those ones from when you are still really, really young. I definitely remember it being at the Blue Bayou restaurant and feeling totally enchanted sitting there in the cool, dark, quiet listening to the Disney-magicked sounds of a swamp and thinking that this must be exactly what it really does feel like to be in Louisiana. And it created this beautiful image of a magical place that REALLY EXISTED in the world that I somehow have still never been to (and am frankly a little afraid that I will be disappointed if I ever make it to New Orleans because that imagined-version is so strong in my mind)! And what if I go to New Orleans and cannot find a Monte Cristo sandwich anywhere?! It would be too devastating.
Seriously though, Disneyland’s Blue Bayou Monte Cristo sandwiches have to be the most magical food at the most magical restaurant in the most magical place on earth. Have you ever tried one? It’s sweet-meets-savory in sandwich form that is reminiscent of a donut, but in a dinner sort of way and stuffed with ham, turkey and cheese. And then dusted in powdered sugar and dipped in jam. JAM! Crazy, I know. In my memory of the first time I tried a Monte Cristo sandwich, I had to be coaxed to try it with the jam and being completely shocked at how good it was. It’s a ridiculous idea and oh-so-wrong but oh-so-right. I mean, c’mon. It’s my favorite food at Disneyland and one of the most looked forward to parts of a visit to the magic kingdom (even though we usually get them from Cafe New Orleans now, which serves the same sandwich but is easier to get into and has a slightly less expensive menu).
If you have ever been to Disneyland, you have probably seen the Blue Bayou restaurant, even if you have never eaten there. The entrance to the restaurant is in New Orleans square, but the dining area is inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, set on the water in the dark and lit dimly by flickering candles and lampposts as though it were a perpetual evening. You hear the water slapping against the sides of the ride boats as they glide past, but the boats are far enough away that it doesn’t feel like the diners are being gawked at through their entire meal. It feels like the calmest, quietest, coolest place in the park and it is wonderful.
And then your server brings out your monte cristo sandwich (because once you’ve had one it’s the only thing you will want to order, ever) and man that is some serious Disney magic. I’m not one of those Disney die-hards who thinks all the food at the park is amazing, but this sandwich is the real deal. You can also order it at the New Orleans Cafe, although the Blue Bayou has way more ambiance. But the best part is that monte cristo sandwiches are so easy to make at home and they taste every bit as good as the ones you can get at Disneyland.
These are best when made with a nice, thick rich bread like challah. And I prefer to use meat sliced thicker than I would normally get at the deli counter, just because I like the texture of it in the sandwich better than the thinly sliced stuff, but if you prefer the thin stuff, then go for it! This recipe is really just making a light batter, then assembly and frying. Which makes it not an everyday kind of meal, but definitely a treat every once in a while. I had a cookbook from Disneyland for a while that somehow got lost in one of our moves during law school or possibly when we came out to the Bay Area, but I know that this recipe came from there. It’s an absolute, all-time favorite in our house.
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup milk
- 8 slices challah bread, 1/2-inch thick
- 2/3 pound sliced deli ham
- 2/3 pound sliced roasted turkey
- 4 slices Swiss cheese
- 3 cups canola oil, for frying
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- Raspberry or blackberry jam
In an 8x8-inch baking dish, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whick together the eggs, water and milk, then add to the flour mixture. Whisk thoroughly until smooth and no lumps of flour remain, then set aside.
On each of 4 slices of bread, arrange one slice of ham, turkey, and swiss. Top with the remaining bread slices, then using a sharp knife, slice each sandwich in half on the diagonal. You may wish to insert toothpicks to hold everything together until the sandwich is fried.
Heat oil over medium-high heat to between 365-375 degrees. If the oil starts to smoke, turn the temperature down. Working carefully, dip half of each sandwich into the prepared batter, lift out and allow excess batter to drip off, then lower gently into the hot oil. Repeat with the other half of the sandwich. Work in batches and do not crowd the pan.
Cook in the oil for about 3 minutes, then flip and cook the other side of the sandwich for another 3 minutes, until golden brown on both sides.
Gently remove each diagonal sandwich half from the hot oil using tongs and set on a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Place in a warm oven until ready to serve. Repeat the process with the remaining three sandwiches, frying each sandwich one at a time and allowing the oil temperature to come back up between each batch.
When ready to serve, dust each sandwich with powdered sugar and serve with raspberry or blackberry jam on the side.
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