Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pepperoni Rolls

Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch as our family of 6 eats, or tries to, on $6/day.

If you don't know what a pepperoni roll is, you probably didn't grow up in the Mountain State, or 10 minutes from its border, as I did. (If you are from West Virginia, you're probably thinking that these look a little lame on the pepperoni --sorry, did you read the bit about the cheap eat challenge above.)

I actually never realized what an interesting regional food these were until I left Appalachia and noticed nobody else made pepperoni rolls while my sister and all her friends in West Virginia made them all the time. Pepperoni rolls were developed in West Virginia as an easy lunch for coal miners. Traditionally the roll consists of pepperoni sticks (not the round slices you see above) in a white flour roll. It's a genius little idea that'd work for anyone in need of a quick, cheap, very tasty lunch. And one of the nice things about rolls and summer is that they rise up nice and quick and only take about 15 minutes in the oven (as opposed to loaves of bread which will cost you 45 minutes of heated kitchen). They're perfect for picnics or days at the pool or easy dinners with a big salad on the side.

I added a bit of mozzarella to mine and used whole wheat flour for half of the flour. My sister (who, as I stated above, lives in the actual state of West Virginia and who is married to a real bonafide West Virginian) makes them sometimes with pepper jack cheese, which adds a nice kick. Hers always look a little more authentic and less goofy than mine as well.

Pepperoni Rolls
makes 24
Prep time: 20 minutes plus 1 1/2 hour to rise.
Cook time: 15 minutes
Cost: $3.55
(rolls: $1.65, pepperoni: 1.50 for 1/2 package; I used less; cheese: .40)

1 recipe Katie's rolls (posted below)--use half whole wheat flour and half white if you want to nutrify it a bit
1/2-1 pkg pepperoni slices or 12 pepperoni sticks
2-4 oz. mozzarella or pepper jack cheese (optional)

Prepare rolls as described below until you finish the first rise.

After the first rise, punch down the dough and separate it into golf ball-ish sized hunks and flatten the hunks into little rounds.

They'll be 3-4 inches across.

Sprinkle on some cheese. Or give it a nice slice if you've got sliceable mozzarella (yum).

Add a few pieces of pepperoni (I'd recommend 4-6, though I used only 2). Or cut some pepperoni sticks into roll sized logs and put them in.

Fold them up.

Put them on a baking sheet, seam-side down. Let rise again for about 20 minutes or until they're getting cozy with each other.

Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.

Take them wherever you need to go. They're delicious, cheap, transportable food.


Katie's Rolls
Makes 16-24
(Cost: $1.65-ish)
1 C warm water
1 C milk, warmed (not hot)
2 Tbsp yeast
1/4 C butter
2 tsp salt
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
7-8 C flour

Add yeast to water and milk. Let it sit there if you've got five minutes. If you'll get distracted by leaving a thing for five minutes, then just throw the butter, salt, sugar, and eggs in before you forget what on earth you were doing in the first place. Mix it all together. Mix in 4 C flour. Add 2 more cups. Begin kneading with hands when it gets too tough to stir. Of course, if you're a member of the 21st century and have a Kitchenaid, you can use that too with the dough hook. I myself haven't quite made it to the 21st century and that's okay with me because (weird mental disorder alert) I kind of like kneading. It relaxes me. I like how the dough smells. I like how it feels. 

So if you, like me, will be doing things manually, here is #1 best tip for rolls. The dough should be pillowy--like a mother's bosom. We don't want any tight teenage breasts, nor do we want a stretched and sagging grandma shelf. If a three-year-old would just love to lay her head on your dough, it's perfect. (Warning: If you have a real life 3-year-old available, do not invite her to lay her head upon your dough to test it out. You'll get hair in your dough. And possibly boogers. Which is what mother's bosoms also get covered in when they have three-year-olds. Not that we mind because three-year-olds are cute.) I've digressed, haven't I? Anyway, so keep adding flour in 1/4 C increments or so and knead it for about 8 minutes until it is nice and pillowy and perhaps the teeniest little bit tacky, but not sticky. Then put it in a bowl and cover it and keep it in a warm place. (Everyone always says put it in an oiled bowl. I have never, not even once in my life done this. I always just throw it back in the bowl I mixed it in. It is always always fine. Who are these people with their oiled bowls and what is the purpose of oiling the bowl?) 

[At this point, go up to the instructions above for pepperoni rolls.]


  1. Dear Jean,
    You must never NEVER allow my family to hear of this cooking abomination. Because then they will eat 24 apiece for dinner, scream for more, and refuse to eat any other foods, forever. Seriously, could you possibly find anything that my family would love more than the divine combination of BREAD, CHEESE, and PEPPERONI? No, I will never, ever make these. Sorry.
    Sincerely, Vanessa

  2. We make this same thing, rolls with cheese but with our leftover ham or turkey from previous dinners instead of Pepperoni....Pepperoni we will have to try and I'm positive we will love it! Thanks for putting in my head more meat options!

  3. Well, I had teenagers looking over my shoulder at the photos. They seem to naturally be drawn to anything with bread, meat, or cheese. This of course has all three and I have been asked to make these no less than 15 times in the last 24 hours. With a request for sauce to dip them. Sounds like a good weekend meal!



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