Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Strata of Monte Cristo

I had all these ingredients that needed using up so I came up with this brilliant idea... googled it and as usual discovered that half the world has been there ahead of me. Oh well. A good idea is a good idea. All the great flavour of the traditional Monte Cristo sandwich, easier to deal with as a savory bread pudding, or strata. Not really any quicker to make, I suspect, but much less fiddly especially if you are serving more than one or two people.

Actually, a Monte Cristo sandwich is often served with raspberry jam. I didn't have any, or I would have tried it. I suspect it would be a good idea to heat it first. You can use any reasonable sandwich bread, white or whole wheat. I used a sourdough rye, actually. Hm... next up, how about a Reuben strata?

6 servings
1 hour  30 minutes -  30 minutes prep time

The Strata of Monte Cristo

4 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
10 to 12 slices slightly stale sandwich bread
2 tablespoons butter
200 grams (1/2 pound) sliced ham
250 grams (generoud 1/2 pound) sliced or grated cheese
    -  gruyere, gouda, cheddar or havarti

Whisk the eggs in a medium mixing bowl with the milk, salt, pepper and mustard. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Use the butter to butter the bread on one side of each slice. Cover the bottom of an 8" x 11" baking dish with a single layer of the bread, butter side down. You can trim the crusts or leave them on, as you like. This should use half the bread.

Ladle about 1/3 of the egg and milk mixture evenly over the bread in the pan. Cover it with an even layer of the ham, and about half of the sliced or grated cheese. Top with another layer of the buttered bread; butter side up this time. Ladle the remainder of the egg and milk mixture evenly over the bread. Cover the top evenly with the remainder of the cheese.

Let the strata rest for about 10 minutes before it goes into the oven. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Remove it from the oven and let it rest for another 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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