Growing up, my mother and grandmother would serve me a dish called cheese monkey. None of the adults ever really explained to me why it was called cheese monkey, and I think I ate it with some degree of suspicion the first time I put it in my mouth. That suspicion was quickly dispelled when I realized it was basically a cheese soufflé.
Now, this isn’t the same as monkey bread, which y’all have probably eaten. Not the same, but it does share some similarities. Monkey bread is made with balls of dough that give the treat a bumpy appearance and is meant to be pulled apart (with, I guess, the same approach a monkey might take to eat it!) Cheese monkey is made with slices of bread that give it the same bumpy, easy to pull-apart appearance. But monkey bread is sweet and cinnamon-y and meant for dessert or a sweet breakfast. Cheese monkey is definitely more of a side or main dish.
Again, this recipe is easy, easy, easy. The longer part of the prep is the time it spends in the oven. Best part? It’s even better the next day. :)
My old recipe uses whole milk and heavy cream. I make it with 1% milk and half and half. I have a feeling you could also use egg substitute, if you wanted. Of course, the bread and cheese still make this a high-calorie treat, but you can cut down on some of it. I like a lot of cheese, but you could also reduce the amount and it would still be yummy.
1 1/2- 2 cups cubed Swiss cheese
Slightly less than 1 loaf sliced French or Sourdough bread
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup half and half
5 well-beaten eggs
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 t salt
1/2 t dry mustard
Preheat oven to 375. Spray the bottom of a rectangular Pyrex dish. Layer bread, then cheese for 2 layers. Combine milk, half and half, eggs, wine, salt, and dry mustard and pour over the bread and cheese mixture. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until most of the liquid is cooked away.
Hope you’ll enjoy a little Southern comfort in the form of cheese monkey!