When life gives you crushed potato chips, what do you do? Make a crunchy Monte Cristo!

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Crushed potato chips make this Monte Cristo memorable. Photo by Leslie Kelly

This twist on the classic sandwich started when the editorial team held a potato chip Snackdown, where a panel of judges selected the best chips from across the country. (Rusty's Black Pepper Chips took top honors.) A friend whose roots go deep in Pennsylvania Dutch country complained that the best chips hadn't been included in the competition, and to make her point, she sent a ginormous box of salty goodness from her hometown of York. Utz, Herr's, Middleswarth and Martin's Kettle Cooked were included in this impressive collection, which I'm steadily working my way through. Got to admit, Mary Pat was right. (She almost always is.) I wish these had been in the mix during our original tasting panel. Maybe we'll do a round 2 some time next year.

At least one bag of chips didn't make the trip intact, as the delicate, thin spud slices shattered like a Christmas tree ornament dropped the top of a stately Doug Fir. I didn't want to toss them, though, so after marinating on a solution, I came up with the concept for the crunchy Monte Cristo. The addition of crushed chips embedded on the outside of the egg-dipped bread was actually inspired by one of the best versions of French toast I've ever eaten, a corn flake-encrusted rendition served at Mother's Bistro in Portland, Oregon. It might sound a little funky, but only if you think of funky in the best possible way. Like Lee Dorsey singing . I'm kind of shocked this winning rendition of Mother's French toast hasn't been inducted into the Brunch Hall of Fame. Wait, what? There's no Brunch Hall of Fame? Well, there should be!

The addition of crushed potato chips to the updated Monte was easy enough, pressing them into the egg-battered bread. I wanted to make sure the chips didn't burn, so the heat was set on medium. After about 3 minutes, I peeked and the surface was golden. One flip and 3 more minutes for the cheese to get extra gooey. Instead of the traditional strawberry jam, I served cranberry chutney. My husband, fresh off a 25-mile bike ride, devoured it, swearing his allegiance to this new Monte Cristo.

I've saved the rest of the crushed chips for my next casserole. Thinking this ingredient might be just the thing to take my trusty mac'n'cheese to the Next Level.

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This classic sandwich includes turkey, ham and swiss. Photo by Leslie Kelly