It's kind of Spam's ancestor, dating back to the 19th Century, invented by John Taylor of Hamilton Square, New Jersey and originally sold as "Taylor's Prepared Ham," a lunchmeat-diameter roll of, well, finely diced ham, or at least smoked pork and some spices.
In 1906, Uncle Sam promulgated an official definition of ham, and Mr. Taylor's product wasn't included. So it became, officially at least, "pork roll," and in New Jersey, they argue over which of the two names is right. Of course they do; there's no fight like as family fight, after all.
But whatever they call it, they eat it, often as a breakfast meat. Some Taylor Pork Roll showed up in the "grab & go" presliced meats at our local grocer's deli counter and, being me, I bought it to find out what it was.
Last night, casting about for something for a light dinner for Tam and me, I fried up four slices -- two just about cover a slice of rye bread with a little overlap in the middle -- melted a dab of butter in the pan, layered two slices of pork roll with a slice of Pepper Jack cheese on each side and slices of rye outside that, and fried the resulting sandwiches in the butter.
Yum! They might be onto something in New Jersey. Those were just about the best fried ham & cheese sandwiches I've had! Okay, fine, it's not legally "ham;" but it'll do, pig, it'll do.
(Served it with cauliflower pickled with beets and garlic, which is another very fine treat from the grocery. I'm going to have to use that, and maybe some regular pickled beets, to make purple pickled eggs, a rare but treasured treat from my youth.)
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