As a college student, and a recently shacked-up girlfriend, I am constantly looking for ways to stretch a buck. When Raymond and I started living together, I was aghast with how much money we were going through. It took a good five months to realize we were bleeding dollars—not to mention gaining pounds—because we were eating out, mostly fast food, at least six times per week. Yes. You read that right. SIX times per week. That’s twelve meals total. With the average fast food combo meal costing between $6-10, we were spending almost as much a week on eating out as I spend monthly on my car payment. And it was completely unacceptable.
The real irony in the situation is that, before I decided that I wanted to be a journalist, I turned down acceptance offers to two culinary schools, and my wonderful fella is one of the best home cooks I’ve ever known. He even has a dream of starting a food truck business. We were better than fast food. So, to make this dream a reality, we set out to change our spending—and thus, our eating habits. The problem was, it had been so long since I spent any real time in my kitchen that I didn’t really even know what I liked to cook, anymore. So I joined Pinterest. Surely, there would be one or two recipes that I would like. As it turns out, Pinterest has proved to be a revolutionary kitchen tool for my home. It has taught me how to meal plan, and to stay within budget. I’ve found knock-off recipes from my favorite restaurants, and new recipes that have become family favorites.
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a slight variation of the very first Pinterest recipe that I tried. It’s been pinned and re-pinned from so many blogs that I don’t actually know where it originated. I do know that it’s delicious. It’s become one of my favorite easy dinners to make during the week, and it’s an easy take-along for parties and picnics.
- 1 stick unsalted butter (leave the icky margarine alone)
- ½ medium white onion, finely chopped—minced is even better
- 2 tsp. poppy seeds
- 3 T. Dijon mustard (be generous)
- 3 t. Worcestershire Sauce (Low-sodium is preferred. Trust me, you don’t need it.)
Over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter is melted, add the onion and poppy seeds, and simmer until onions are just cooked through—about 10 minutes. Add the Dijon and Worcestershire and stir. Let simmer another few minutes. Do not be alarmed if sauce begins to separate, like a roux. Just give it a stir before it goes on the sandwiches. I promise, it will still taste good.
- 1 package of 12 Hawaiian sweet bread rolls
- 1/2lb Black Forest Ham, deli-sliced (I’ve found honeyed ham to be too sweet with the bread.)
- 4-6 slices Provolone cheese, deli-sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. To make a bottom and a top to the bread, run a serrated knife horizontally through the intact square of rolls (you’ll slice them into sliders when they’re done). With a silicone spatula, apply a liberal amount of the sauce to the bottom “bun.” Layer the ham and cheese over the sauce, and place the top of the bread onto the sandwich. Now, here’s where this recipe turns decadent. You’re going to take the rest of your sauce and spread it over the top of the sandwich. I usually try to make sure that the top of every roll is covered in the sauce. The butter will allow for a nice browning in the oven, and the onions will caramelize, giving it an even more savory flavor. Place the pan in the oven, and bake at 400 degrees until brown, which should take about 15-20 minutes. Do allow to cool for five minutes—if you can stand it. It will smell amazing.
I like to slice the big sandwich into sliders for easy consumption and usually serve with raw broccoli florets, baby carrots, snap peas, or kale chips – any good, snacky veggie. One package of 12 rolls usually yields enough for my guy, my grandmother, and me, plus enough to take to school in my lunch bag the next day. The original recipe calls for Swiss cheese instead of Provolone, but my grandmother won’t eat Swiss, so I’ve played around with cheeses until I found one that I liked. Mozzarella is also good, but I absolutely love the Provolone. I’ve also added tweaks to the sauce. I’ve made it with ½ a stick of butter, I’ve tried it with margarine, I’ve used dehydrated onion flake, and I’ve tried onion powder. The sauce as I’ve given it to you is my personal best variation. I’m not going to bother giving you a calorie approximation. This is an obviously French sauce coupled with an Italian cheese and sweet Hawaiian bread. This is not a meal you should make if you’re trying to thigh-slim. But it’s a hearty, comforting meal that I promise will bring a smile to your face, your stomach, and your wallet.
Kim is an aspiring documentarian, food truck owner, and road tripper extraordinaire. Find her online at The Wren Report.
Thank you, Kim! This sounds amazing. I think I’ll put it on the menu soon.