Column: The morbid joy of funeral sandwiches
September 7, 2022
Every so often, I get in a bit of a rut when it comes to the nightly dinner menu, and we seem to be eating tacos and spaghetti a bit more than we probably should. While there is certainly nothing wrong with either, we probably eat them more than we should, and this rut usually serves as a great way to introduce some new items to the dinner table.
A few weeks ago, I wanted to break loose from the blasé menu and bring back an old favorite we had not eaten in a few years. We had planned on watching a UFC fight, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to have something fun for dinner, although I must admit the name of the dish sounds a bit morbid.
We decided to make “funeral sandwiches,” and despite the name brought smiles to the three of us as we overate in the leadup to the big fights.
I don’t always remember many of the funerals I went to as a child. Still, I do remember family and friends gathering after and how there always seemed to be these tasty sandwiches that were always devoured within a few minutes.
I always found them delicious, so one day, out of the blue a few years back, I decided to do some research online for a recipe and found they were really easy to make. I also decided that if something tastes so good, why can’t I make it when I’m happy rather than have them associated with the saddest days one can have?
After some trial and error, I’ve come up with my recipe and encourage others to make it for a game night or big football game rather than just for a funeral. It seems a bit depressing something so tasty is pigeonholed into just funerals, so I’m going to start having them once every couple of months, but not too often because they are not exactly what I would call healthy.
I always start by buying King’s Hawaiian rolls. This is a must-have. I tried other types of rolls, but they do not even come close to the wonderful and sweet taste of a King’s. I will slice the entire package in half and lay the bottom in a on oven pan.
The next step is to start piling on good deli ham. I can be cheap sometimes, but mediocre ham does not work. I think leftover ham would be ideal, but after a couple of nights of ham, I’m not sure if I want ham for a third straight day.
I’ve used quite a few cheeses but found pepper jack is a perfect compliment to the ham without being too overpowering. I do not skimp as I layer the cheese on the ham. Then add the top of the rolls to assemble the sandwiches..
Now is where the magic happens.
I throw a stick of butter in a pan and add brown sugar, honey mustard, and Worcestershire. Once it is melted, I pour it over the assembled sandwiches. The first time I tried making “funeral sandwiches”, they did not look appealing at this point but trust me, the melted butter and condiments are worth it.
Some people like to add sesame seeds or dry minced onion to the top of the buns, but I prefer to use parmesan. I don’t need to get fancy with the parm, either. The cheap “shaky” kind works just fine.
Whenever I’m eating my weight in breadsticks at Olive Garden, I wish they’d bring the “shaky” cheese to the table rather than feeling uncomfortable. It is always weird as the server waits for me to say “when” manually putting cheese on my soup or entrée.
Once I add the cheese, I cover it with foil and cook for about 15 minutes at 350. I will then take off the foil and cook uncovered for about two or three minutes.
The result is a cheesy, buttery, and salty masterpiece. Two sandwiches are usually filling, but I typically insist on eating four.
They taste even better when not associated with a funeral.