West Virginia is frequently referred to as “Almost Heaven.” You’ll find the reference on state signs, advertising, and in John Denver’s song Country Roads. West Virginia is the birthplace of its official state food, the pepperoni roll. Thus, an true pepperoni roll is a bite of heaven.
What is a true pepperoni roll? It is a simple combination of a good bread dough and pepperoni. It may or may not also contain cheddar, pepper jack or (albeit controversially) other cheese. It is not pepperoni wrapped in pizza dough. It should not contain any other meats, vegetables, or sauces. It is meant to be simple and not require refrigeration…it is a roll with pepperoni.
The can be purchased in West Virginia everywhere from bakeries to convenience stores. My favorites are found at JR’s Donut Castle in Parkersburg. To find out more about the background of the pepperoni roll or to find out how to have them shipped to you from JR’s, click here.
However, they can be simply made at home and enjoyed fresh from the oven. The complex way to make them at home is by making your own bread or roll dough. The simple way to make them at home is to use store-bought frozen bread dough.
There are some people who are adamant that pepperoni rolls should be made with small sticks of pepperoni; the rest of us prefer pepperoni made with sliced pepperoni. I like using “sandwich” pepperoni. It is a nice size for the rolls, especially larger rolls, and it is easy to get freshly sliced at the deli. Although I do not know why, I believe that you really get a better result using recently sliced pepperoni. The pre-sliced pepperoni that I have used in the past just isn’t the same.
While the bread is baking, the pepperoni releases its oils into the surrounding soft bread creating a visibly orange area surrounding the pepperoni. I think it is what makes a pepperoni roll so wonderful.
While my family enjoys home-made (or semi-homemade) without cheese, I always prefer cheese. The cheese also melts into the bread dough and pepperoni oils as the rolls bake to add even more deliciousness. You will have to decide between shredded or sliced sticks or mini-slabs. I usually use cheese that I cut from a block as it is what I usually have on hand; I also like that the cheese is concentrated in the middle when I use the stick or slab.
Pepperoni Rolls are great for lunches, camping, tailgate parties, and much more.