For December, members were challenged to Grab a Book and Cook! by turning to page 42 or 142 of the closest cookbook, and redux the recipe inside into something a little healthier. I picked up the "Top Secret Recipes II" book by Tom Wilbur and was thrilled to find a copycat recipe for Bennigan's Monte Cristo Sandwich on page 142.
When I lived in Orlando for a summer during college, there was a Bennigan's just down the street from my apartment, and it was always a special treat to go there when my parents came to visit. Not because Bennigan's was especially fancy or expensive, but because I could splurge a full day's (or maybe week's) worth of calories in a single sitting on a deep fried sandwich (dusted with powder sugar and served with a side of raspberry preserves). It was always worth every bite. Their menu describe it as:
Honey wheat bread layered with tender ham, roasted turkey, Swiss and American cheeses. Batter-dipped, gently fried and coated with powdered sugar. Served with red raspberry preserves for dipping.
Out of respect for Mr. Wilbur's original publication, I am posting my version of the recipe, with healthier swaps, including whole wheat flour (both in the bread and the batter), a lighter batter, no-sugar added fruit preserves, and am choosing to slightly pan sear the sandwich instead of deep frying it. The result is just as good as the original without the nasty I-am-so-full-I-want-to-die feeling. For best results, eat immediately - the gooey cheese is part of the magic!
3 slices whole wheat bread
1 oz. sliced deli turkey
1 oz. sliced deli ham
1 slice American cheese
1 slice Swiss cheese
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 tsp sugar
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup no-sugar added raspberry preserves
powdered sugar, to taste
1. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.
2. In a small bowl, combine batter ingredients.
3. Assemble the sandwich by layering ham & american with turkey and swiss. Use a toothpick to hold the sandwiche together.
4. Dip the sandwich in the batter and turn to coat, taking care not to let it fall apart.
5. Place the sandwich in the pan and cook until cheese is melted and batter is a golden brown.