The holidays are over and I found myself with a profound amount of random leftover food and ingredients I wanted to use up. I bought a gigantic loaf of ciabatta bread at La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles intending to use it as an accompaniment to artichoke dip. I did use it for artichoke dip and to make a grilled cheese sandwich and still had a large amount left over!
I also had several pounds of turkey I’d vacuum sealed and frozen after Thanksgiving. You would be astounded at the amount of food I have packed in my freezer. The problem is often times I freeze leftover food items with the best of intentions but never pull them out again to eat. I had a crazy amount of Thanksgiving leftovers this year, this being the first year without my dogs to eat the bulk of the leftovers.
In searching for French toast recipes on the internet (intent to use up the remaining ciabatta bread) I somehow got into looking at Monte Cristo sandwiches and Monte Cristo casseroles/bakes. While I do not eat ham unless ambushed, I figured I could make a pretty good Monte Cristo type sandwich/bake using up the leftover turkey in the freezer. This recipe is sort of a mixture of various baked Monte Cristo recipes I found on the internet. It’s excellent to use up leftover bread and leftover turkey but if you don’t have leftover Thanksgiving turkey laying around, you can use some really nice thick cut turkey. Costco sells some good options and likely your local grocery store has a deli; they could slice up some thick slices for you as well.
- 16 slices white bread (I used ciabatta bread sliced fairly thin; use something sturdy that won’t fall apart when soaking in the custard)
- approximately 1 lb thick cut turkey (I used leftover turkey from Thanksgiving)
- 3 c. white cheese such as gruyere
- blackberry preserves or jam
- 6 large eggs
- 1-1/2 c. whole milk, cream or half and half
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Line a greased 13×9-inch baking dish with 1/2 of the bread, cut into pieces if necessary to fit into the bottom. Spread blackberry preserves over bread. Layer with turkey and cheese, top with more cheese and another layer of bread.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla; pour over top. Cover and refrigerate overnight, flipping the sandwiches over at some point. I did this nearly right before baking but would have liked to have done it earlier.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Remove casserole dish from refrigerator while the oven preheats. Bake, uncovered, 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve with powdered sugar or maple syrup.
This is a sweet and savory recipe. (Obviously.) I’m not normally into sweet and savory. I actually pride myself on this fact so much to the point where when I eat something sweet and salty people have asked me … I thought you don’t like sweet and salty? Now there is a difference between sweet and salty and sweet and savory, no? Like I don’t like coconut shrimp. Just why? Why would you want to mix shrimp with something that’s eaten as dessert? I’m not a huge fan of barbecue sauce, I believe for that same reason. It’s one of the last sauces I would reach for. I also don’t love teriyaki chicken. That being said, I like salted caramel anything or chocolate chip cookies with sea salt. See the difference?
At any rate, I really did enjoy this dish. If a combination of French toast, cheese, turkey and blackberry sounds a bit weird, would you believe me when I say it tastes good but even better when you top it with maple syrup? Because it does. I tried both ways and firmly like it with maple syrup even better. Even more odd? I don’t love maple syrup. I rarely eat it on pancakes, waffles, French toast, etc.
As an aside, I intended to add bacon to this dish, pulling some out of the freezer for the express purpose of adding it as a second layer to the dish. But then I forgot to fry it up and even so I realized I wouldn’t have enough bread to do a three-layer sandwich. However, I think sprinkling some bacon into the recipe would be fabulous too.
This is a comforting meal that makes a great breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. I’m a huge fan of breakfast for dinner!