I have a confession to make.
The first time I made pepperoni rolls, and wrote so lovingly of my home state of West Virginia and my own recipe, I was dead-ass wrong.
Not about West Virginia, of course. All of that furious love and bordering-on-irrational loyalty is still firmly intact. And while we’re on the topic of irrational loyalty, allow me to quickly insert a side note re: John Denver’s classic, “Country Roads.”
I have had many kind people, from all states and even other countries, tell me that “Country Roads,” is also symbolic of their beloved, rural homeland and I couldn’t be happier for them. Really, I am. In fact, I welcome you to listen and recollect about your curvy Missouri roads all you like, or the splendor of your Colorado mountains or the graces of your Connecticut streams. But at the end of the day, “Country Roads” is ours. We’re happy to loan it to you on the weekends, but only if WVU isn’t playing or we don’t need it for a wedding reception.
And yes, Maryland-ers, I’m aware of the song’s technical inspiration. But loyalty and love seldom have time for technicalities. So give us “Country Roads” and kindly keep your eyes on your crabs.
As for my aforementioned wrong-ness, that would pertain exclusively to the first iteration of my pepperoni roll recipe posted here. Since then, a “no shit” moment has arrived and I’ve co-opted my favorite dinner roll recipe (from my grandmother Yie) and landed upon what I believe to be pepperoni roll nirvana.
So make these for your next tailgate, your next camping trip, or your next anything. Because they are that good. And if you’re not from West Virginia, please consider pepperoni rolls to be no different than that WV song you love. In the spirit of southern hospitality, what’s ours, is truly yours…on one condition, that is:
Never (and I mean never) call them pizza rolls.
West Virginia Pepperoni Rolls
- 1 recipe Yie’s Rolls, prepared through step 4
- 3 packages sliced pepperoni (about 12 sliced per roll)
- 2 cups shredded provolone
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup grated pecorino romano
- 4 Tb butter, melted for brushing
- Spray 4-5 sheet pans with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Picking up after the first rise from Yie’s Rolls (step 4), punch down the proofed dough gently to deflate and place on a floured surface.
- Divide the dough into 4 oz pieces using a kitchen scale or just eyeball it. This should yield about 16-18 pieces. With a rolling pin, gently roll each piece into a rectangle, about 3 inches x 2 inches. Place sliced pepperoni in rows 4 by 3 across on dough and sprinkle with a handful of cheese.
- Shape the rolls by folding in one long edge followed by the 2 short sides, and then rolling up like a burrito. Seal the edge firmly by pressing the seam into the counter with your palm or pitching shut with your fingers. Continue with remaining dough and place rolls on prepared sheet pans, about 2 inches apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise till doubled, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 3 slits in the top of each roll to allow steam to escape. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through to make sure they brown evenly. Remove from the oven and brush immediately with a generous amount of melted butter. Transfer to a rack to cool.
- Rolls will keep well for about 2 days in an airtight container or freeze in bags for up to 2 months. To thaw, remove from freezer and let sit at room temperature until thawed. Reheat in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Preparation time: 3 hours
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 16-18 rolls