It is a variation of the pepperoni and cheese French toast roll-ups in the archive. There are three differences though:
- Salty ham instead of pepperoni is used here.
- The cheese is aged cheddar, not Monterey Jack.
- Panko forms the outermost coating for added crisp.
Is this recipe better than the older one? I like them both, to be honest. Omitting panko makes the prep easier and faster, but I have to admit that the added texture and bulk that panko provides has its appeal.
So… Start by taking a block of cheese, cutting it into half-inch slices then cutting each slice into sticks. Set the cheese aside and trim the bread to remove the crusts. Why remove the crusts? To make the next steps easier.
Using a rolling pin, flatten each slice of bread. If you hadn’t removed the crusts, the edges would be thicker and you definitely don’t want that. You want the bread slices to be of even thickness. Once the bread slices have been flattened, smear one side of each slice with softened butter.
Lay a slice of ham on the buttered side of the bread, place a cheese stick on top, then roll the bread as tightly as you can without tearing it.
Repeat until all the bread slices have been filled and rolled. Place the rolled bread on a plate, cover tightly with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (the chilling part can be overnight if you want to serve the bread rolls for breakfast). Chilling firms up the cheese and lessens the chance that it will soften too fast and ooze out of the rolled bread during frying.
Once your bread rolls have been sufficiently chilled, heat oil in a frying pan or wok. How much oil? Two-and-a-half to three inches deep. Take the bread rolls out of the fridge. Roll each one in beaten egg then cover with panko.
While the egg should seal the rolled bread and keep it from unrolling during frying, I prefer additional assurance. Wooden toothpicks. Push a couple inward near the seam. Don’t push all the way through. You want a portion of the toothpicks to remain visible so that you can pull them out easily after frying.
Fry the bread rolls in hot oil. Just for ten seconds, really. Drop, count five seconds, roll them over, count another five seconds then scoop out. Obviously, oil temperature is crucial. If the oil isn’t hot enough, it will take time for the panko to turn golden brown and crisp. By that time, the cheese would have oozed out. On the flipside, if the oil if too hot, the bread will brown too fast before the cheese gets hot and gooey.
The ideal temperature is 350F. But that’s for people who use a thermometer. I don’t. I just drop a pinch of panko in the oil to test. If the bits of bread sink, the oil isn’t hot enough. If they brown immediately, the oil is too hot. The panko bits should float and turn golden after a few seconds.
Crispy ham and cheese bread rolls
- 12 pieces wooden / bamboo toothpicks
- 6 slices loaf bread crusts cut off
- 3 tablespoons butter softened to room temperature
- 6 slices ham
- 150 grams aged cheddar cut into thick fingers
- cooking oil for deep frying
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 ½ cups panko
- Flatten each slice of bread with a rolling pin.
- Smear one side of each slice with softened butter.
- Place a slice of ham on the buttered side, top with a piece of cheese, then roll to seal. Repeat until all the bread slices have been filled and rolled.
- Place the rolled bread on the plate, cover with cling film and cill for 30 minutes (up to overnight).
- Start heating the oil in a frying pan or wok.
- Roll each piece of bread in egg then cover with panko.
- Secure each rolled bread with toothpicks.
- Drop the bread rolls into the hot oil, count five seconds, roll them over, count another five seconds and scoop out.
- Pull out the toothpicks and discard.
- Cut the bread into thick slices and serve immediately.