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Ham-and Cheese-Stuffed French Toast



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Ham-and Cheese-Stuffed French Toast

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Twelve 1-inch-thick slices firm, coarse-textured
white bread, crusts removed
3 cups extra-rich milk
3 eggs, beaten to blend
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons brandy or bourbon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Twelve 1-ounce slices sharp white Cheddar
Six 2-ounce sliced baked ham
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil

Confectioner's sugar
Watercress sprigs

Dry bread slices at room temperature on wire rack for 1 hour. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, brandy, lemon zest, orange zest, pepper and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Pour batter into 2 large rectangular baking dishes. Arrange 6 bread slices in each dish. Let stand until batter is absorbed, at least 1 hour. DO NOT TURN BREAD OVER.
Cut cheese and ham slices to fit bread. Set 6 cheese slices on 6 bread slices. Top with ham slices. Cover with remaining cheese slices. Using spatula place remaining bread dry side down atop cheese.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons oil in each of 2 heavy large skillets over medium heat. Place 3 sandwiches in each skillet and fry until outsides are crisp and golden brown and cheese has melted, adding more
oil if necessary, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter. Dust with
confectioner's sugar. Garnish with watercress. Serve immediately.
Serves 6.

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