Heh, I grew up on the Jersey Shore (Eatontown)...Taylor Ham sandwich with sharp cheddar cheese on hard roll was my favorite if I came home, uh, well...a little drunk (eek! The legal age back in 1975 was 18!!!)...I live in Florida now and believe it or not, Taylor Ham can be obtained here, Publix sells it, not sure of other grocery stores...but you know what? It just doesn't taste the same to me (PLUS I'm much more mature now)...have cooked it for my sons when they were teens...meh, they didn't LOVE it. Oh, the memories! And, it's very difficult to find a GOOD hard roll here in SW Florida, but I agree with you...hard roll is required.
Awwwwwww I just love reading those words. In NJ we ate many a pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich (on a HARD ROLL) but like Val, it only tastes good when you are down the shore. I'm in FL now also. Before I moved here I visited family who had just moved here in 2001. My Stepfather was crying for some, and I went and found the largest one I could buy-from Stop -n- Shop I think. It was 15 lb surprise. I vac sealed it, froze it, packed it with blue ice bags, swaddled it like an infant and hand carried it on the plane all excited to lovingly place it in his arms when they met me at the gate. He peeled off the blankey, looked up at me and said "Oh thak you honey! I found some at Publix yesterday!!" My heart broke.
Still, he ran it into the house and had my Mom fry some up. Mom complained bitterly that there were no hard rolls to be found in this state... I felt strangely vindicated.
I like to buy the large diameter roll and either cut it myself or have the butcher do it on their deli slicer. I like it cut about 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick with 3 or 4 radius cuts around the circumference to prevent it from curling up during cooking. I then cook it on a very hot BBQ grill. When its cut this thick, you can get a nice char on the outside while the center remains nice and moist. Top it with a thick slice of melted American cheese on a toasted Kaiser roll with a little honey mustard BBQ sauce and you have a great Jersey sandwich.
Although Taylor Ham is the standard, Trenton Provisions the parent company also makes Trenton Pork Roll which is a little milder and less salty than Taylor and is my preference. Case also makes an excellent pork roll in regular and mild versions.