Years ago, with the innocence of youth on our side (and on that of our metabolisms), we happily partook in a good number of decadent treats… both savory and sweet… relatively oblivious to the calories, carbs or carelessness of such. One particular splurge, of which my husband was exceptionally fond, was a sandwich called the Monte Cristo. With regard to its primary content, this sandwich is not vastly different from most any meat-cheese variety. The one that we enjoyed incorporated both ham and turkey meats, as well as Gruyére cheese. What made it so delicious was its extraordinary sweet and savory appeal. And… what made it decadent was how it achieved that appeal: three slices of white bread, a generous coating of creamy butter, a rich lathering of whipped egg, a good swim in hot oil, and (after a little rest) a lavish sprinkling of powdered sugar and dollop of fruit preserves. I mean what isn’t good about all that is battered, fried and dusted (healthy hearts, arteries, and waistlines aside)?
Years later, living in the Netherlands, we happily switched up our sandwiches for most anything we found in the land of windmills and tulips… simple meat and Gouda cheese creations that almost always had some sort of egg kicked in. Whether it was hard boiled, scrambled, sunny side, poached, or served up over easy, medium, or hard… that simple little egg made a huge difference to the flavor and interest of those platings.
With the experience of wisdom that time provides, there’s little to nothing that gets deep fried in our home today… and rarely sprinkled with sugar unless there’s a candle plopped on top, or an occasion to divide the portion among many in an attempt to whittle the warfare on our waistline. The one thing that time (nor wisdom) suppresses, however, is the desire to continue enjoying the flavors that nostalgia evokes.
This little sandwich, served up as a hearty brunch offering, certainly touches on the sweet-savory nature of those Monte Cristo sandwiches of yesteryear, without all the sugar and fat. A mini roll is delicately spread with just a touch of marionberry preserves… more than aptly leaving the sweet side of this creation to Stemilt’s Pink Lady apples. Slices of lightly sautéed Pink Lady apples lend a fresh, subtle sweetness and crunch that delightfully offsets the more savory components of this build. Lean turkey bacon and black forest deli turkey combine with a young variety of Gouda cheese (along with a little wink and nod to The Netherlands). Apart from the obvious nostalgic factor, a younger variety Gouda is an excellent choice for its exquisite melt-ability and the unique “sweet” flavor notes it imparts due to its low acidic profile. Continuing with our personal penchant for The Netherlands, an egg (over hard in this preparation) is nestled atop, followed by those delicious Stemilt apples, and a tuft of fresh baby greens.
It’s a hearty sandwich that deliciously satisfies our own nostalgic, yesteryear life abroad… without all the baggage (literal and otherwise).