Today’s sandwich is the “Sweet Ham and Swiss Cheese Slider.” It combines ham, Swiss cheese, sweet pickle, and mayonnaise on a butter-and-sugar-brushed soft dinner roll.
Notes: I don’t think I’ve ever seen the combination of salty ham and sweet sugar embraced quite as mightily as it is in Southern Mexico. In that section of the country, there exists an exploding middle class that has never before existed in that part of the world. Eager to differentiate themselves from the “have-nots,” this new generation eagerly embraces heavily processed white bread over corn tortillas and the food of their ancestors. In the Bodega Aurreras and rapidly multiplying Wal-Marts of the region, a dizzying array of Dr. Frankenstein 1950’s-style food creations are meeting the population’s new demand for this so-called “modern” food.
In many chain supermarkets, past the counters covered in room-temperature trays of “sandwichon” (large, mayonnaise-and-canned-vegetable-frosted white bread sandwiches stacked lasagna-style, and layered with endless combinations of lunchmeat, strawberry jelly, cream cheese, liver pate, and/or tuna salad), large plexiglass cases often contain freshly-baked breads and rolls of all shapes and sizes. At least half of these buns are filled with cheese, or ham, or ham and cheese…and almost all of them are sprinkled with granulated sugar. In fact, the cocktail party we held before our wedding in Yucatan served a dozen varieties of these little sugary ham rolls as the only appetizer, which is what happens when you hire an absentminded hairdresser as your wedding planner. But that’s another story for another day.
Once you get past the initial surprise, the combination of ham and sugar works amazingly well together. After all, that’s why we glaze giant hams with brown sugar for the holidays, and with Easter approaching, you are sure to find yourself with plenty of leftover sweet, sticky ham. These sandwiches are built on packaged “Brown-n-Serve” dinner rolls, which are super-soft, chewy, and due to a complete lack of nutritional value, barely qualify as “food.” Stacked with melted Swiss cheese, a dab of mayo, and a slice of bread-and-butter pickle, we brush the tops of each dinner roll with a combination of melted butter, mustard, brown sugar, and cocaine. Okay, scratch that last ingredient. When you see how quickly your guests eat their way through two dozen of these fluffy little sweet-and-salty wonders, you’ll have your suspicions. Only your Mexican hairdresser knows for sure.
Sweet Ham and Swiss Cheese Sliders
- 12 white New England-style “Brown-n-Serve” dinner rolls
- A dab of mayonnaise
- 6 slices of honey-baked ham
- 6 slices of Swiss cheese
- 12 slices of sweet bread-and-butter pickle
- 1/2 stick of butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
- Poppy seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Split each of the dinner rolls, and spread each side with a little bit of mayonnaise. Stack ham and Swiss cheese on the bottom of each half of each dinner roll, followed by the sliced pickle, and the top of the sliced roll. Group tightly together on a large baking sheet.
In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, mustard, Worcestershire, brown sugar, and onion powder.
Brush or drizzle the sandwiches with the mixture, and finish with a sprinkle of poppy seeds. Tent with foil and bake for ten minutes, or until cheese melts. Uncover and bake five more minutes, or until sandwiches turn golden brown. Serve immediately.