Monday, January 7, 2013

Gourmet Monte Cristo of Smoked Turkey, Danish Vincent Gouda and Herbs du Provence with Blackberry Preserves

A monte cristo with classic gourmet flavors, presented with classic style!  

     A few years ago I wrote a recipe for a standard American diner restaurant style monte cristo sandwich and mentioned that I would post some gourmet monte cristo recipes sometime in the future.  The future is now!  A few weeks ago I posted a nice monte cristo sandwich recipe that was very much like the original monte cristo from the 1930's with one exception.  I did not post an accompanying fruit preserve recipe.  
     The monte cristo is an American sandwich and it is not America's answer to the French croque monsieur sandwich.  Similar ingredients are used, but the monte cristo is not cooked crunchy crisp like a croque monsieur.  Many old pre 1960 cookbooks described the monte cristo as being fried.  Fried referred to pan frying back then and not deep frying.  Pan frying can be done on a flat top grill or cast iron griddle.  Pan frying can be done in a saute pan or skillet.  Diner cooks almost always cooked monte cristos on a flat top grill.  Classier restaurants started a monte cristo in a saute pan and finished cooking the sandwich in an oven.  The combination of pan frying and baking produces the best monte cristo sandwich!   
     Many pictures of monte cristo sandwiches on the internet look like the sandwich was fried at too high of a temperature for way too much time.  The color of those sandwiches are very dark brown and nearly black in color.  That is what you call an overcooked monte cristo that was made by a cook that literally followed modern food writer interpretations of old monte cristo recipe descriptions.  Like I said before, a monte cristo is not cooked till it is dark brown and crisp like a croque monsieur!   The egg batter crust should be a golden brown or light brown color.  
     Danish Vincent Gouda was named after Vincent Van Gogh.  Vincent Gouda is a cows milk cheese that is aged for at least 5 months.  This gourmet cheese is a good melting cheese and it has complex caramel, honey and nut flavors with a little bit of a sharp cheese bite.  Vincent Gouda is a perfect match for smoked turkey breast!
     The original monte cristo was made with ham.  Not every reader of this food blog eats ham.  I chose to use smoked turkey for this sandwich, because it does have classic savory flavor that is just as appealing as a good ham.  
     Herbs du Provence flavors the egg batter sandwich coating.  The nice Provence countryside mixture of herbs really adds a classic european flavor to this sandwich.
     Diner style monte cristo sandwiches are usually plain.  Classic monte cristos are dusted with powdered sugar and served with jam or fruit preserves.  Blackberries were on sale at a very nice price, so I made a small batch of blackberry preserves for a series of gourmet monte cristo recipes.  
     Many people picture jelly and jam making as being a major project of canning many jars of preserves that will be used for the rest of the year.  Unless you have a large family to feed, a large batch of jam means eating the same old jam over and over again.  A small batch of jam can be just enough for a few servings and canning then becomes unnecessary.  As long as the freshly made preserves are refrigerated and consumed in about 7 days time, then there is no risk of ptomaine contamination.  Botulism risks are usually only associated with vacuum packed food and canned food that was improperly packed or left in the temperature danger zone for too much time.  
     As you can see in the photographs above, I had a problem with the pictures of the blackberry preserves.  The preserves glistened like no other fruit preserves that I have ever made and the glistening sparkle made my digital camera throw fits.  The blackberry preserves turned out to be very rich tasting! 

     Blackberry Preserves:
     This is a small batch recipe that makes about 1 1/2 cups of preserves!  No canning is involved and this small amount can easily be consumed within the Servesafe prepared food time limit of 7 days.  The preserves do have to be refrigerated.  If this recipe is multiplied for large batch canning, then it will have to be slightly modified, so the preserves do not turn out to be too thick. 
     When selecting fresh blackberries for making preserves, fresh black berries that are on the verge of becoming overripe are the best!  The only problem is that fully ripened blackberries can have tough crunchy seeds.  It is best to taste a few of the blackberries and decide from the start whether the seeds will be too tough.  If the seed are unpalatable, then press the finished batch of preserved through a small mesh strainer to remove the seeds.  When the seeds are removed, it can no longer be called blackberry preserves and it must be called blackberry jam! 
     Place 2 1/3 cups of blackberries in a colander and thoroughly wash the berries under cold running water.
     Place the blackberries in a small stainless steel sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the blackberries with an extra inch of water.
     Add 1 small pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
     Add 1 pinch of ground ginger.
     Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
     Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer till the blackberries become soft.
     Add 3 ounces of liquid pectin.
     Simmer and reduce, till the blackberries melt into the sauce and the sauce is able to coat the back of a spoon like a glazing syrup.
     Cool the preserves to room temperature.
     Strain the preserves if the seeds are too tough.  (optional)
     Refrigerate the preserves in a container, till the pectin and sugar gels.  (about 24 hours)
     Serve small portions in a ramekin at room temperature, so the flavors are at their peak! 

     Monte Cristo of Smoked Turkey, Danish Vincent Gouda and Herbs du Provence with Blackberry Preserves:
     Place 2 eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 pinches of herbs du provence.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Whisk till the mixture is blended.
     Set the egg wash aside, so the flavors meld.
     Cut 2 slices of French bread.
     Place a few thin slices of Danish Vincent Gouda on one slice of bread.
     Place 4 to 5 ounces of thin sliced smoked turkey breast on the cheese.
     Place a few thin slices of Danish Vincent Gouda on the turkey.
     Place the top slice of bread on the sandwich.
     Heat a non-stick or seasoned saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 5 pats of unsalted butter.
     Dip both the top and bottom of the the sandwich in the egg batter.
     Place the sandwich in the hot butter.
     Pan fry, till the egg coating turns a golden color.
     Use a spatula to flip the sandwich.
     Pan fry till the eggs on the bottom half become golden in color.
     Place the pan in a 350ยบ oven.
     Bake until the egg coating becomes a golden brown or light brown color.
     Place the sandwich on a cutting board and cut it in half.
     Place the sandwich halves on a plate.
     Lightly dust the sandwich with powdered sugar.
     Place a ramekin of the blackberry preserves on the plate.
     Garnish with an Italian parsley sprig.

     This is a delicious gourmet monte cristo!  Spreading some blackberry preserved on the sandwich between bites is a sheer pleasure.  
     The monte cristo is a sandwich that many modern chefs overlooked during the recent creative gourmet sandwich food trend.  Here I am to save the monte cristo day!  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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