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This post originally debuted May 2019, and with Walt Disney World Orlando restoring this sandwich, is now updated & republished September 2020 - ENJOY!
I am so entirely happy to be updating this post about one of, if not my most favorite sandwich ever, The Monte Cristo!
...and this is what I wrote just over a year ago. Boy, how things have changed at Disney -
"That's right. Discontinued. Just gone. Nowhere in any of the Orlando parks does there exist, at least not at the time this post is being written, the greatest sandwich to hit Main Street USA ever, the Monte Cristo. Disney did away with this sensation in the early 2000s, gifting it solely to Disneyland in California." May 2019
Built tall like Cinderella’s castle with two kinds of cheese and scrumptious ham and turkey, dipped in batter and fried until the cheese is molten…<sigh>…I am dazed with foodie delight. This Monte Cristo recipe may just convince you to try an epic, albeit fried sandwich.
Read my Walt Disney World, Orlando posts! There is fantastic information on where to stay, what to expect, links for recommended gear to go with, and of course, DISNEY FOOD!
The first time I sat down to The Monte Cristo Sandwich I was 15 years old and visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida with my parents and brother David. As Disney always is, crowded and hot, hot, hot, we stopped on Main Street USA to get out of the sun and grab lunch. This of course, in the days of old when you did not need a reservation at Disney eateries. We all ordered the same thing, the most tantalizing of sandwiches on the menu, The Monte Cristo. It was MARVELOUS and I have adored them ever since. Where had this been my whole life?
Something happened though shortly after that visit. Something terrible that left me and a whole lot of loyal Disney foodie fans scratching our heads. Disney removed the Monte Cristos from all of its Orlando parks. Overnight, the stuff that dreams were made of was ONLY available in Disneyland in California. Utter devastation. Confusion. MANY Disney bloggers chattered loudly about the sandwich's demise. Why did Cali get to feature this masterpiece solely? What now, can I get an authentic Monte Cristo sandwich near me at least? The food world was ablaze with conversation and questions about the best thing to hit Disney World since its chief muckety mouse.
Monte Cristo Sandwiches are deep fried triangles of love.
Last Christmas, and in the moments before Covid, my entire family took a trip to Disney World. I write for Disney’s Vacation Club and often I am asked to explore new or updated venues in and around the parks. Since we were all adults this trip, and the opportunity arose to stay at Disney’s newest hotel, The Riviera, I jumped at it. I’d read from a park link that arrived via email one day that Riviera was going to be geared toward adults. I was excited to see just how far the parks had come in designing a facility based on cartoon characters that would cater to us old folks. Well, they nailed it.
So, The Riviera Hotel at WDW Orlando is not only for adults, it is for families with children without question. What it is missing is what I like to refer to as “the bustle of Disney” present at almost every other resort on property. The characters and bright colors and kiddie music all geared toward little ones. Sure, there was stuff for kids, but there was also stuff for adults and singles without kids. We stayed for a full week at the end of 2019 and I could not help but give Riviera my highest rating. On Christmas morning we attended a live character breakfast on their roof top restaurant, Topolino's. Funny enough, I ordered a Croque Monsieur, the Monte Cristo sandwich origin as it's thought to be by many. It was spectacular, and little did I know that the best was yet to come.
The early morning character breakfast at Topolino's Restaurant atop WDWs Riviera Hotel was SPECTACULAR! The food was rich and delicious and there was soooo much of it. We enjoyed every moment of our experience at Topolino's, and I HIGHLY recommend it. Riviera Hotel is just a Skyliner-ride away from Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Art of Animation, Pop Century, All Star Music, and All Star Sports resorts.
My Mom and I hit Epcot one afternoon as the new Disney Skyliner is accessible with a very brief walk right outside the hotel. It takes you from Hotel Riviera and drops you off in Epcot at the foot of the United Kingdom, and across from France. It was hot and very crowded, but we traversed almost to The American Adventure along the World Showcase, making a brief stop in Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France pavilion for some of the best chocolate croissant and pastry available at at the parks. After we boarded the Skyliner to head back, we decided to explore Hotel Riviera a bit more. I am soooo glad we did this.
Outside and around the back of the hotel by the pool was a small eatery and bar. Bar Riva. It was open to the outside with what looked like big garage doors, so guests got the full experience of the outdoor pool area. It was a welcome and chilly cool-down nook for us as we climbed the bar stools and perused the cocktail menu. Edwynn, our AMAZING host, set Mom and I up with a couple of powerful cocktails. And then, as though I had been suddenly hit with something heavy, I spied it on the snack menu…I recognized the words but wasn’t quite processing what I was seeing…my God they have a MONTE CRISTO!
Of all the eateries and quick services venues in all of the Disney Orlando parks, Bar Riva at the Hotel Riviera has the Monte Cristo! And it is EXACTLY the way I remember it.
What exactly is the Monte Cristo sandwich?
While the Monte Cristo sandwich tends to vary from chef to chef and restaurant to restaurant, the typical components of the sandwich remain the same. Three thick slices of sweet Brioche bread, one slice piled with tavern ham and American cheese. A middle slice of bread is then added, and then smoked turkey and Swiss cheese capped with the final slice of bread. Once secured with toothpicks, the sandwich is cut on the diagonal and dipped in an egg batter and fried. There are a zillion sandwich recipes out there, and the Monte Cristo has numerous methods of assembly. I have heard of this sandwich recipe prepared in an air fryer. I have yet to try it. There is also a baked Monte Cristo sandwich out there. I've heard of places who lather the bread slices with mayonnaise or mustard, but I go old school and let the melted cheese be the mortar. For me, a deep fried Monte Cristo sandwich with jam is a treat. A question I have been asked a lot is what to serve with Monte Cristo sandwiches. I keep it light and do a side of red seedless grapes or oven baked fries. A bona fide Monte Cristo is served with a side of red raspberry jam and dusted liberally with powdered sugar. Those of you who know this sandwich, well…your mouth is watering, isn’t it? Huh? See!
Do you think Disney's main Mouse is jealous yet?
So, where was this sandwich for 20 some odd years? The Monte Cristo sandwich Disneyland was not surrendering their stake in its popularity. A couple of east coast restaurants picked up the method and one in particular, Bennigan's, ran with it successfully until the chain went out of business. Bennigan’s rendition of the Monte was a darn good one, too. And it was long about this time that I began searching for Monte Cristo sandwich recipes. To that end, how to make a Monte Cristo. I think I have it pretty well nailed down, but judge for yourself.
I have had Monte Cristo’s that were not battered and fried, rather prepared like French toast, and served with warm maple syrup. While I ate my way through what seemed like nothing more than a grilled cheese sandwich with leftover ham from some other recipes or main dishes, I typically do not enjoy this most iconic of American sandwich inventions prepared this way. For me, it’s the go Disney World or go bust Monte Cristo.
How To Make A Monte Cristo Sandwich
The method for the Monte Cristo sandwich may look laborious but it is deceivingly uncomplicated. It is a quick and easy meal that, with a little planning, comes together in under 30 minutes. I know this memorable sammie will leave your taste buds craving more! I have updated the instructions to include the full method for frying the sandwich. Hearing from enough followers familiar with the Monte Cristo and asking for that final step convinced me to re-shoot this campaign and update my recipe. The batter is light and very runny but do not be fooled because it toasts up beautifully golden. Contrary to belief, frying this sandwich does NOT cause the bread to absorb the oil. You want your oil super-hot so when the sandwich hits, the batter instantaneously cooks establishing that barrier between the sandwich and the oil. I drain on a wire cooling rack over a layer of paper toweling before cutting each triangle in half again, and dusting with powdered sugar.
- large Dutch oven or other deep cast iron pot for frying
- long toothpicks or bamboo skewers that have been cut to fit the sandwich
- Kitchen tongs
- wire cooling rack
Did you know that it’s super easy to print out a version of a half recipe or even a double recipe on Not Entirely Average? Hover over the serving size (highlighted in blue, it says 24 on this recipe) and then slide the the white line to the left to make less or to the right to make more. This "calculator" allows you to play until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.
Ingredients For The Monte Cristo Sandwich
for the egg batter
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
for the sandwiches
- 8 ounces sliced smoked turkey breast
- 4 ounce swiss cheese
- 8 ounces sliced tavern ham
- 4 ounce American cheese
- 12 slices thick-sliced Brioche bread or other Texas toast sized bread
- **4 to 6 cups vegetable or canola oil for frying **the amount of oil you use will be dependent on the size of the pot you use, but you want the oil at least 4 to 6 inches deep
- red raspberry or blackberry jam for serving this should be at room temperature
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Prepare a wire cooling rack by laying paper toweling over the rack in a double layer. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the lightly beaten egg and the water together. Add to flour mixture and combine well. Set aside.
- Make the sandwiches by first laying out 4 slices of the bread. Top the bread with 2 ounces each of one of the meats and 1 ounce each of one of the cheeses. The order is irrelevant. Top each with a second slice of bread. Repeat, topping the second slice of bread with the remaining 2 ounces of meat and remaining 1 ounce of cheese. Cap with the third slice of bread and cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal. Secure each half with at least 2 long toothpicks or modified bamboo skewers.
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven to 360° using a candy thermometer to alert the correct temperature.
- One sandwich at a time (two halves), dip into the egg batter and coat on all sides well. Fry in the oil until golden brown on all sides. This step will take several minutes per side. Do not crowd the sandwiches.
- Remove each half using tongs to the prepared wire cooling rack. Repeat, one sandwich at a time, until all of the halves are fried. Remove the toothpicks and cut each half in half again. Now you will have 4 triangles.
- Assemble the triangles on plates. Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar and serve with a side of red raspberry or blackberry jam.