© Antonis Achilleos
Sunday brunch grilled cheese
Brunch and lunch sandwiches that will make you melt
The magnificent Monte Cristo is a ham-and-cheese sandwich that’s battered, fried, dusted with powdered sugar and served with maple syrup or jam. Here’s a meatless version that marries slightly dry slices of brioche loaf with a thick batter enriched with butter, vanilla and flour yields a nice crisp and dry finish on the outside and a perfect custardy consistency on the inside.
one 1-lb (455-g) brioche or challah loaf, cut into 8 thick slices
¾ c. (180 ml) whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tbsp. (60 g) salted butter; 2 tbsp. (30 ml) melted, 2 tbsp. (30 g) at room temperature
2 tsp. (10 ml) vanilla extract
2 tsp. (10 ml) granulated sugar
½ c. (125 ml) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. (1.25 ml) salt
4 oz. (115 g) Brie or triple crème cheese, thinly sliced
8 ripe strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
brown sugar bourbon sauce for drizzling (recipe follows)
Arrange the bread slices on a large baking sheet and let dry while preparing the other ingredients.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, melted butter and vanilla. Add the granulated sugar, flour and salt, and whisk to combine. Scrape the batter into a shallow pan, such as a pie dish or cake pan. Set aside.
Heat a stove-top griddle pan or a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat or heat an electric griddle to 350°F (180°C).
When the griddle is hot, nestle two slices of the bread in the batter and let soak for 5 seconds, then carefully flip and soak on the second side for another 5 seconds. Transfer the soaked breads to a clean plate.
Melt ½ tablespoon (15 ml) of the room-temperature butter on the hot griddle and add both pieces of the soaked bread. Cook until the first sides are nicely browned and completely dry to the touch, about 3 minutes. Using a wide spatula, carefully turn the breads.
While the second sides are cooking, arrange one-fourth of the Brie and one-fourth of the strawberries on top of one piece of bread. When the second sides are nicely browned and the Brie is just softened, use the spatula to transfer the bread with the cheese and strawberries to a platter, and gently place the other cooked bread on top. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and place in a low oven to keep warm. Repeat to cook and assemble the remaining sandwiches.
Place each sandwich on a plate and cut in half, if desired. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, drizzle with the bourbon sauce and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Chèvre and fig chutney: substitute 6 tablespoons (90 g) room-temperature goat cheese for the Brie and ½ cup (125 ml) fig chutney for the strawberries.
Cristo Hispanico: substitute 3 ounces (85 g) thinly sliced Manchego cheese for the Brie and pile 3 ounces (85 g) shaved or thinly sliced Jamón Serrano, prosciutto or speck on top; substitute ¼ cup (60 ml) pumpkin-orange marmalade for the strawberries. Garnish with fresh raspberries.
Honey pot: substitute ¼ cup (55 g) room-temperature chèvre and 3 ounces (85 g) shaved or thinly sliced Carmody cheese for the Brie and top with 3 ounces (85 g) thinly sliced French-style ham. Substitute ¼ cup (60 ml) tomato jam for the strawberries. There is no honey in this sandwich; the name “honey pot” refers to the category in a grilled cheese competition that this sandwich won.
Brown sugar-bourbon sauce
Drizzle this sauce over bread pudding, ice cream, cheese¬cake, pancakes or waffles. Instead of bourbon, feel free to substitute rum, rye, amaretto, orange brandy or applejack (apple brandy) for different flavours.
1 c. (250 ml) packed dark brown sugar
½ c. (125 g) salted butter at room temperature
½ c. (125 ml) heavy cream
2 tbsp. (30 ml) bourbon
2 tsp. (10ml) vanilla extract
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the brown sugar and butter together, whisking constantly until smooth.
Turn the heat to low and carefully add the cream, bourbon and vanilla (the mixture may boil up, so add the liquids slowly and keep whisking constantly). Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Reheat in a microwave when you’re ready to serve. Makes about 1½ cups (375 ml).
This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.