The only thing more disappointing last night than the West Virginia Mountaineers loss to NC State in the Champs Bowl, was my dismal effort at making pepperoni rolls. I should have researched recipes long before last night. Or, alternatively, placed an online order to Chico's Bakery for a South Dakota delivery of Julia's Pepperoni Rolls. The superior quality of the bread makes these pepperoni rolls tops in my book. About a year ago I did order a dozen to introduce my prairie friends to this qunitessential experience of West Virginia cuisine.
To the uninitiated, a pepperoni roll is a neat, portable snack - or it could be the basis of a meal - that consists of pepperoni encased in bread dough and baked. Originating at the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, WV, pepperoni rolls were a favorite of coal miners as they were filling, highly portable and did not require refrigeration. Pepperoni rolls have some variations such as with or without cheese, with or without peppers, served at room temperature, warmed, or split open and served hot with marinara sauce. Variations aside it is the quality of the bread and the quality of the pepperoni that elevates the pepperoni roll from a mere quick, cheap snack to a taste of Almost Heaven.
And this is where my efforts at pepperoni roll production failed. I used a hot roll recipe that was a little too sweet, and a little too rich from the presence of two eggs and 1/2 cup of sugar in a dough that had 4 cups of flour.
And the pepperoni? Alas here on the eastern prairie of South Dakota, authentic pepperoni is harder to find than a real Democrat. Mine was flat, insipid and totally lacking in zip and pizazz. Not that I want my pepperoni overly peppery and spicy hot, but it should be able to boldly distinguish itself from the bread, not unlike a real Democrat boldly speaking out against the South Dakota political status quo. The best quality pepperoni conveys passion, heat, and a gusto for living as it lies both united with, and at the same time, independent of the bread.
Kind of like a truly progressive political community where differences are abundant but respect reigns supreme. Thus allowing everyone to move forward and progress be effected.
But - I digress. Politically speaking. Just a little frustration leaking out from the last election. Not unlike the oozing of the pepperoni into the surrounding bread.
In my search for pepperoni roll recipes last night (my search began after my failure) and I found several fabulous web sites. First the Pepperoni Roll Home Page by Bob Heffner and second a wonderful source of pepperoni roll recipes and West Virginia blog: Chickens In The Road. Author Suzanne McMinn provides beautiful photographs as well as step-by-step recipes. Next time, I'm trying her recipe!