Josephinas

published Oct 21, 2021
christmas
Josephinas Recipe

Josephinas, also known as Howell’s Bread, are slices of French bread topped with a mixture of softened butter, shredded Monterey Jack, mayonnaise, garlic, and green chiles, then broiled until golden-brown.

Serves10 to 12

Makesabout 40

Prep25 minutes

Cook8 minutes

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josephinas on a sheet pan
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Josephinas, also known as Howell’s Bread, are slices of French bread topped with a mixture of softened butter, freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, and canned green chiles, then broiled until the cheese is melted and golden-brown. There’s a time and place for elegant bites on crostini, and I’m happy to say this is not it.

According to the cookbook Party Snacks!, the original recipe for Josephinas surfaced in a weekly newspaper in a tiny Kansas town decades ago, and it’s survived in the dusty corners of the internet for too long. Ever since it was passed to me by a friend’s mom — who brought them to nearly every potluck and dinner party — I’ve been determined to share it with as many people as will listen.

When done right, Josephinas have a shatteringly crisp crust and soft, bready middle that’s so married to the butter-mayo-cheese mixture that the two are completely inseparable. As the daughter of Russian immigrants, there’s a certain wonder with which I approach hyper-American food — and Josephinas are no exception. Practically an ode to the Midwest, they’re one of those back-pocket recipes where the scale between the level of effort and the resulting payoff is almost comically tilted in favor of the latter. Here’s how to make them.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How to Make Josephinas

Start by shopping for the following ingredients:

  • French baguette: Look for a soft baguette about 24 inches in length. 
  • Unsalted butter: You’ll need it to be spreadable, so leave it on the counter for a few hours before beginning.
  • Monterey Jack cheese: If possible, you’ll want to shred this from a block, although pre-shredded will work in a pinch. Freshly shredded cheese melts more readily due to the lack of preservatives and starches that keep shredded cheese from clumping together. If you can’t find Monterey Jack, mozzarella works, too!
  • Mayonnaise: Opt for your favorite brand.
  • Fresh garlic: Don’t leave this out!
  • Canned diced green chiles: These aren’t very hot, but add a signature bite to Josephinas.

To assemble, simply combine the softened butter, shredded cheese, mayo, garlic, and green chiles in a large bowl, then pop it in the fridge for an hour. Slice up the baguette and pile a heaping tablespoon of the butter-cheese-mayo mixture onto each slice. A quick stint under the broiler is all that stands between you and a platter of golden-brown Josephinas.

Josephinas Recipe

Josephinas, also known as Howell’s Bread, are slices of French bread topped with a mixture of softened butter, shredded Monterey Jack, mayonnaise, garlic, and green chiles, then broiled until golden-brown.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 8 minutes

Makes about 40

Serves 10 to 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 8 ounces

    Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1/2 cup

    mayonnaise

  • 2 (4-ounce) cans

    diced mild green chiles, such as Hatch

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1

    (24-inch) French baguette

Instructions

  1. Place 2 sticks unsalted butter in a large bowl and let sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl of butter as it is completed: Grate 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups). Mince 2 garlic cloves.

  3. Add 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 (4-ounce) cans diced green chiles (do not drain), and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and mix until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

  4. Arrange a rack 3 to 4 inches from the broiling element and heat the oven to broil. Meanwhile, line 2 rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil. Cut 1 baguette crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Arrange the slices on the baking sheets, spacing them at least 1/2-inch apart. Let the butter mixture sit at room temperature for a few minutes, then divide the mixture onto the bread slices (about a heaping tablespoon on each) and spread to the edges. Refrigerate until the oven is heated.

  5. Broil 1 sheet at a time, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the tops are browned in spots and the edges of the bread are crispy, 4 to 10 minutes per sheet.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: Light or fat-free mayo can be substituted for regular. Low-moisture shredded mozzarella cheese can be substituted for the Monterey Jack cheese.

Make ahead: The butter mixture can be prepared up to 1 day ahead of time and refrigerated. The Josephinas can also be assembled and refrigerated up to 1 day before broiling.