As I’ve said before, I don’t do recipes for cooking. If you’re a recipe person, that’s not helpful and I’m sorry. But I do give instructions now and again. My friend Lola thinks I should write a cookbook Joey-style, and I think about it every time I type out directions for someone.
Today’s directions are for my mother, who asked me about the Monte Cristos. Yes, my parents read my blog, when tolerable or convenient.
My mother is the person who taught me to make sammiches, but the rest of y’all are questionable, and I take food seriously, so pardon my explicit and perhaps pedantic directions, but do pay attention and don’t fuck it up.
You need stuff, and if this were a recipe, I’d be very specific about what you need and how much you need, but this is not a recipe, so just go put the skillet on a nice steady, low heat for now — whatever you do grilled cheese on. If you don’t know how to set your cooktop for grilled cheese, you have no business attempting this sammich.
If you’re like my MIL, you won’t heat your skillet first, because the skillet will “burn up” and I don’t understand you. If you’re like that, then your first sammiches will all be soggy on one side and that will burn me up.
Slice up a baguette. You want a nice firm, skinny white bread. I happen to have leftover pre-sliced bread from the bakery, so I’ll wait while you slice yours.
Okay, now make a egg and milk base like you’re gonna cook French toast.
I like mine a little more yolky so I give a coupla egg whites to the dog.
“Who’s a shiny puppy?!? Oh she’s such a shiny, pretty puppy!”
Again, if you don’t know how to make French toast, or separate eggs, my directions will not help you, please do not attempt to cook this sammich up.
Now make a small dish of mayo mixed with spicy mustard. You don’t like mustard? Why am I even talking to you? Mix well.
Lay your bread out on the counter in pairs. No, not like that, middles side-by-side, have you ever even made a sammich?!? You do want the crusts to line up, don’t you?
Spread the mayotard across the bottom slice.
Get out the ham. I hope you bought a more savory ham, like a basic Virginia baked ham. You really do not want extra sweet here.
Let me tell you the most important part of making a sammich with cheese: You must nest the cheese inside the meat. You do not want the cheese to touch the mayonnaise. It’s not just my own personal obsession, I’m preventing a tragedy. The mayonnaise is like glue to the cheese, and you will just end up with the top of your sammich stuck to the roof of your mouth, cheese gagging you, and then you’ll choke as you try to suck that down, making unfortunate clucking noises and looking awkward. That is pleasant for no one.
So, layer the ham, with air ripples, then cheese, then more ham with ripples.
Press gently on each sammich and set them aside.
Melt butter in the skillet.
Dip each sammich into the egg and milk mixture and then put them in the butter to cook like a grilled cheese.
This takes some time.
Things you can do while the sammiches get all melty and beautifully golden on both sides:
Wash the dishes, even those muffin tins.
Scour the sink.
Make coffee for the mornin.
Write checks for sports physicals and orchestra camp.
Give your pets lil pieces of cheese.
Kiss and grope your husband.
Eventually, all the sammiches will be done.
I serve them with strawberry preserves. I suppose you can use any kind of preserves, or heaven forbid, none at all, but strawberry Bonne Maman is our preference.
I seldom serve them.
Generally, people stand around the kitchen and eat them as fast as I make them.
These keep well in the fridge, and re-heat well in a warm oven.
They’re also pretty good cold at 7am the next day. I’m just sayin.