Elen sila lumenn omentielvo!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A tale of two meals

It was a moderately healthy meal...

Na'an bread pizza


...and it was a freakishly unhealthy meal.

Monte Cristo sandwich

The first up there is a pizza I made using a crust of Na'an bread. I spread it with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, onto which I put some minced garlic. Then I topped the thing with a bit of cheese (an Italian blend from a bag -- I got lazy), followed by sliced plum tomatoes, onions, and banana peppers. I sprinkled a bit of basil and oregano on the whole thing, and it was just so good!

And then there's the Monte Cristo sandwich. Hoo boy.

I haven't had Monte Cristos very often over the years, as they're not the most common menu item in restaurants, and...well, they're not terribly healthy. It's probably been seven or eight years since I had one. But I got to thinking about the Monte Cristo after I watched an old episode of Good Eats on YouTube. I've been watching a bunch of these lately, and one of them had Alton Brown holding forth on a food item that is very dear to my heart: waffles.

At the end of the episode, after he'd made his perfect waffles, he said that you could top it with butter and maple syrup, but that's not his favorite waffle topping. I figured he was going to put some kind of fruit topping or something like that on there...but instead, he plunked a piece of fried chicken right down on top of the waffle! He said that he tosses the chicken with a bit of hot sauce, puts it on the waffle, and then pours maple syrup over the whole thing. This struck me as very odd.

But when I did a bit of online research as well as talked to a guy at work who knows a lot about food, it turns out that fried chicken and waffles is actually a very common food pairing down south! I love southern food, but I'd never ever heard of this. And as I thought about it some more, I realized that the fried chicken and waffles bit isn't that far off, conceptually, from the Monte Cristo sandwich.

And what is the Monte Cristo? It's a meat and cheese sandwich -- I used ham, turkey, and Swiss -- which you then dip in an egg batter on both sides and then cook in a frying pan. You then serve the sandwich with a sweet sauce to dip it in. You can use fruit preserves, if you like, or you can do what I did here: maple syrup. Of course maple syrup goes well with this; I've often had maple-cured ham or maple-cured turkey from the deli, and basically this is a sandwich made from French toast. And wow, was it awesome. As of this writing, I ate that sandwich four hours ago, and I haven't touched any food since.

(The egg batter I used was just two eggs beaten with a bit of half-and-half. I've seen recipes online for thicker batters that you smother the sandwich in before deep-frying the whole thing, but that seems like overkill to me. Most recipes also suggest dusting the sandwich with powdered sugar, but I didn't bother with that.)

So there you have it. It was a meal of moderation, it was a meal of excess; it was a meal of healthful vegetables, it was a meal of fattening meats and egg-batters and bread. But both were far, far better meals than I have eaten recently!

(If you're wondering why I'm talking like this, well, I'll hold forth in a future post about it, but this may explain things:

A Tale of Two Cities


Ach! I'm becoming Dickensian!)

2 comments:

Lynn said...

Chicken and waffles is NOT common in the south. Perhaps in one small area of the south?

Doug said...

Maple syrup with a sandwich? After thinking about it, it doesn't sound too different from what my wife likes to have me make on Saturday mornings, overeasy egg on top of pancakes with maple syrup and bacon on the side. Since I'm typing over lunch, I may have to try this sandwich.