Combine milk and brown sugar in a bowl and stir til sugar is dissolved.
Add flour and .25 oz instant dry yeast.
Stir until a soft dough forms. Add more flour as needed (up to 1/2 cup).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times, forming a smooth ball.
Brush the inside of a large clean bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Alow it to rise in a warm, draft-free area for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide it into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust a rolling pin with flour and roll each piece of dough into roughly a 12x4-inch rectangle.
With the long sides facing you, place the ham topped by the cheese onto the bottom third of each piece of dough.
Starting with the long edge with ham and cheese, roll tightly into logs.
Cut each roll into 12 pieces.
Transfer to a silpat (parchment) lined sheet and let them rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add 4 teaspoons of baking soda to the boiling water and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
Boil the pretzels in batches, cooking for about 20 seconds each and turning once. If you are having casualties, pinch the ends closed just a little.
They should look slightly puffed when they are done. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them back to the baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until they are puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.
Brush with 4 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of coarse kosher salt.