No one knows how many Disneyland pass holders wake up with the shakes since Governor Newsom locked us out of Disneyland. I know I do.
One of my favorite annual treats there is the Monte Cristo Sandwich. This high calorie, deep fried deliciousness isn’t allowed by my cardiologist more than once a year. Getting desperate after our governing used car salesman locked me out of Disneyland, I decided to set out on my own and make a Disneyland Style Monte Cristo Sandwich. Of course there are thousands of versions. The one I had under the Eiffel tower in Paris is a close second but it isn’t deep fried.
The old Blue Bayou Menu hanging in my kitchen didn’t say enough about the sandwich for me to make it. Searching on line, I found hundreds of variations. Many were clearly wrong because they weren’t even fried. I assume those are the classic French versions. Thanks to Dr. Goldberg, who sent me the link to the Theme Park Insider recipe I started prepping the kitchen.
Fried Cheese Sandwich
Like the guy in the Theme Park Insider video, I set up everything on the counter to make it easy. I even experimented with rolling the meat, laying it flat and waving it, to fluff the inside better. Rolling it turned out to be my favorite texture.
I have to say this came out really good, but something was definitely missing. I had a suspicion that the chef in the video really works at Disneyland so he left something out. I wouldn’t want to lose my job for giving away the mouses secret recipe so I get it. Much like a beignet made at home, if you don’t add enough powdered sugar it is plain. The Monte Cristo I made was good. But there was still something clearly missing.
Playing with Hot Oil
One challenge was making sure the oil was at the right temperature. Try finding a deep fryer in s store now that isn’t made for a turkey. The world is “Air fry” bonkers. Covid is killing all the fun stuff. Since I couldn’t find a deep fryer, I had to use a deep pan on the stove. The trick is to use a wood spoon or chopstick. Stick it in the oil and:
If a few bubbles – too cold
If solid stream of bubbles – about right
If explosive bubbles – Too hot
Having a cheap electric stove, I went for a little too hot and then turned it down one number after adding the sandwiches. I figured the sandwiches would cool the oil just enough.
Is It The Bread?
Since deciding to use sourdough, I wanted the closest thing to Disneyland sourdough bread. Ours came from the LaBrea Bakery which has a location at Disneyland. The shopping experience at Downtown Disney was super painful with the crowds and the lines, so I did not have bread from the actual Downtown Disney location of LaBrea Bakery. We waited over an hour and couldn’t take it any more so we left.
After the home version of Le Spécial de Monte Cristo was complete I let them cool, added the powdered sugar coating and we all took a bite. No one said “Wow, this is it!” It was mostly “pretty good”.
While discussing with friends what could be wrong, lots of things came up. Is it the ambiance of the Blue Bayou or the French Market? Is it because we are closer to the beach? Do we all have Covid and lost our sense of taste? (We got tested, that wasn’t it).
Eventually, we realized the classic Blue Bayou menu says “egg bread”. Is the sourdough too “sour” and ruining the sandwich? I thought maybe that was it, so I ran off to a local dutch bakery for some fresh egg bread. Nope didn’t fix it. Stuffed to the gills, I had to stop for the night and regroup two days later.
Kid Friendly Version
For kids who don’t want apple wood smoked ham in the middle, this worked great with just cheese. For adults who are cheese lovers, replace the ham and turkey with a couple of exotics like Brie and Mild Cheddar. My wife wants one with brie cheese and black truffle. I told the neighbor kids we were making donut grilled cheese sandwiches. They liked it way better than the spicy Italian pizza I made the night before. Who knew kids don’t like spicy stuff.
Talking with several people who tried the recipe while I gave my stomach a rest one comment was common. We all agreed, the batter at Disneyland’s Blue Bayou was closer to Jack’s Panko Onion Rings. So being the OCD guy that I am, I started digging for that recipe, I mean we all know Jack (and Sonic) can’t keep a secret. But that didn’t taste right either, so we know it isn’t pancake batter. It was closer though.
After another day of rest, I decided to go full Emeril and just “Bam” and “adjust to taste”. I started with the base of the original batter and thought since I wasn’t using egg bread, maybe one more egg. I went back to the sourdough because I liked the texture better. A dash of Vanilla or two was added along with two table spoons of sugar.
For this batch, I used rolled meat to keep the bread further apart and let a little batter leak in. By cooking them a bit longer they had a browner crisp for the crust. Finally I did re-use the oil. Filtering and storing the the oil from the earlier batch was easy. I just put it into a beer growler for storage. I don’t know how long canola oil lasts, but I recall changing the oil weekly at my fast food job so I figured I was ok.
This batch of Monte Cristo sandwiches came out a little darker brown and after cooling they were powdered up. Instead of a embarrassing myself with a tasting again, my wife and I plated up, grabbed a glass of chablis and headed outside to eat. When she took her first bite she said “Wow”. I knew I was close enough. Sadly I now have one less reason to put up with the crowds and visit Disneyland.