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Simplify your summer with freezer sandwiches

By By Robert St. John / food columnist
June 11, 2003
Robert St. John is the executive chef/owner of the Purple Parrot Caf and Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg and Meridian. He can be reached at robert@nsrg.com or at (601) 264-0672.
Summer is here and it's time to clean out the freezer.
Later this summer, my freezer will be filled with sweet corn, butter beans, peas and peaches. Right now it is filled with freezer sandwiches. Next to a marinated eye of round, freezer sandwiches are the perfect vacation food.
Freezer sandwiches are, like many great recipes, very basic in their ingredient list and preparation but extremely tasty in their end result. The recipe consists of ham, Swiss cheese and a tangy poppy seed dressing all prepared on your normal, everyday run-of-the-mill hamburger bun.
The magic is in the dressing. Dijon mustard, horseradish and butter are the perfect foil for the ham and Swiss. The key is in the baking. As the sandwich bakes inside the aluminum foil, the outside of the bun gets crispy and toasted while the cheese becomes gooey and the ham gets piping hot.
Who knew so many
families ate them?
I have been eating freezer sandwiches since I was a child. At home there were always a dozen or so lurking around in the back of our freezer. Freezer sandwiches were also a college-apartment staple. Too often I would pull out a freezer sandwich, pop it in the oven, turn on the TV and forget about afternoon classes.
Before family vacations we always make a few dozen of these sandwiches, freeze them and pack them in an ice chest. Once we have arrived at our destination, we pop them back in the freezer.
As everyone is usually on a different schedule while on vacation, freezer sandwiches make it easy to eat lunch. Just pop one in the oven whenever you're ready for a break from the beach.
Freezer sandwiches were popular before the dawning of the microwave oven and are not suitable for microwave cookery. I find that one of the most attractive attributes of this sandwich.
Three years ago, I wrote a column about freezer sandwiches and was surprised to discover how many people ate them growing up. I thought my family was one of the few. I had never eaten them at a friend's house.
Maybe that is because they were so good no one shared them with company. Now that I think of it, I always hoarded my lot of freezer sandwiches, too.
A freezer sandwich
by any other name
Over the years I have discovered that there are many variations and derivations of the freezer sandwich. Some folks use pistolettes (oval-shaped French rolls) instead of hamburger buns and call them footballs. Others use hot dog buns and call them torpedoes.
The dressing has variations, too. Some use regular yellow mustard, some use whole grain or yellow mustard. I like Dijon. In all of the variations of the recipe, the two constants are Swiss cheese and poppy seeds.
Freezer sandwiches are perfect for the house, the beach, after school or as a late-night snack. They are surprisingly easy, relatively quick and extremely tasty.
Freezer Sandwiches
1 stick butter, melted
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 pound ham, thinly sliced
8 slices Swiss cheese
8 hamburger buns
Combine butter, horseradish, mustard and poppy seeds. Mix thoroughly. Open all of the hamburger buns and brush both sides of the inside with the poppy seed dressing. Place two ounces of ham and one slice of cheese on bottom part of the bun. Repeat with the remainder of the buns.
Close the tops of the buns and brush more of the poppy seed dressing on the outside tops and bottoms of the buns. Tightly wrap each sandwich in aluminum foil and freeze.
To cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees and place sandwich, still tightly wrapped in foil, directly on the center rack for approximately 30 minutes until center is hot and cheese is melted.
Yield: 8 sandwiches.

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