Kickstart Your Entertaining Game with Star Chef’s Remakes of a Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich | Food and drink

We’ve just wrapped up Memorial Day weekend, which means it’s time to start honing entertainment skills – hitting the trays for food that’ll serve more than the folks in your pod, figuring out how. prepare the cocktails you’ve learned while locked out, and reconnect to recipes that work for a crowd larger than immediate family members.

In this still surreal moment, Ashley Christensen believes people should show off their favorite recipes – ones they haven’t been able to present for over a year – and dismiss seasonality considerations. The chef and owner of a mini restaurant empire in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, including Poole’s Diner and Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, enjoys summer produce. But she’s become a star of decadent Southern specialties, from gratin macaroni and cheese to fried chicken cookies, and she knows their appeal isn’t limited to the cold. At the same time, she wants to make a freezer case as one of the most powerful and underrated tools in home kitchens.

In “It’s Always Freezer Season: How to Freeze Like a Chef with 100 Make-Ahead Recipes” (Penguin Random House; $ 30), Christensen and his wife, writer Kaitlyn Goalen, show how useful freezers are for tidying up leftovers like grilled chicken and veg and for stashing pesto and salsa verde. Christensen and Goalen also feature chapters with dishes that can be made ahead and kept in the freezer, such as quiche lorraine and pulled pork shoulder, before being reheated and served at a party.

Christensen’s ham and cheese rolls fall into the latter category. Usually she serves them for holidays like Easter and Christmas, but this year everything is different. “These scrolls are heading to the pre-summer gathering table because we really missed a year of gathering, and now we’re starting over,” Christensen says.

For her, buns are the perfect sharing dish for what could be your first party of the year. “You can do all the prep ahead of time and take them out of the freezer and put them right in the oven.” She adds, “I also really like the idea of ​​poolside parties and outdoor sessions where, after a long day, this delicious treat can be quickly browned and easily enjoyed.”

His sandwiches are important little taste bombs, with slices of deli ham and a mound of shredded Swiss nestled in soft and tender Hawaiian buns. Christensen’s trick is to top the roll with a butter infused with brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and mustard, accenting the meat with a holiday ham-style glaze that tastes like someone who spent hours in it. . In the oven, the butter melts in the roll, the cheese melts on the ham, and the finish is glorious. They are best served hot, but hold up well if you return them a few seconds later, if there is any left over.

Christensen offers another pitch for making these rolls until spring, or at least until everyone’s attention is on the grill. “It gives people the chance to save all the charcoal energy for the full and height of summer.”

The following recipe is adapted from “It’s Always Freezer Season” by Ashley Christensen and Kaitlyn Goalen.

Testers Note: Make sure the butter is at room temperature, so that it absorbs all of the Worcestershire. If everything is not incorporated, pour in the remaining liquid butter. The extra butter is great on grilled chicken or pork – or any roast meat sandwich for that matter. The authors also advise that it’s good on popcorn.

Ham and Swiss cheese rolls

1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tbsp. light brown sugar

2 tbsp. sliced ​​yellow onion

1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

A pack of 12 Hawaiian sliding rollers

8 oz. thinly sliced ​​deli ham

2 cups grated Swiss cheese (about 7 oz)

Make the mixed butter: in a small bowl, combine the butter, sugar, poppy seeds, onion, mustard and Worcestershire sauce, and mix well. Put aside.

Assemble the rolls: cut each roll in half horizontally. Place bottom halves, cut side up, on a work surface. Spread evenly with mayonnaise. Distribute the ham evenly between the bottoms of the roll, tearing or cutting the slices into pieces as needed to fit the roll. (You don’t want too much overhang). Distribute the cheese evenly between the bottoms of the rolls, placing it on the ham. Cover with tops of rolls, pressing gently but firmly. Arrange the rolls on a rimmed baking sheet, spacing them a few centimeters apart and spread a little of the compound butter evenly on each roll; you will have leftover butter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the rolls for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the rolls are hot. Brush a little more softened butter on top of the rolls and serve hot.

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