In her book Way Out in West Virginia, Jeanne Mozier calls pepperoni rolls the “state food” and describes them as “a primary food group for struggling artists and students, and the only food I found worthy of a quest.” Anybody who has been fortunate enough to spend a day tailgating in the famed Blue Lot outside Mountaineer Field would undoubtedly agree with that sentiment.
The pepperoni roll was invented in the 1940s at the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, WV, by owner Giuseppe Argiro, a former miner who noticed many of his co-workers munching on a piece of pepperoni with a piece of bread. Argiro began baking rolls with pepperoni slices inside as a practical lunch for the town’s miners, who needed food that was portable, sturdy and long-lasting.
Portable, sturdy and long-lasting are characteristics of tailgating food, and pepperoni rolls are relatively easy to make. The biggest challenge with the below recipe is keeping the rolls together during cooking—like stuffing a burrito, you’re best off putting less inside each roll so that you can pinch it closed without any difficulty.
Pepperonni Rolls Recipe
- Can of buttermilk biscuits.
- Bag of shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Large jar of pizza sauce.
1. Roll each individual biscuit out flat.
2. Put a tablespoon or so of pizza sauce in the middle. You may want to consider mixing in a little salsa and Tabasco green pepper sauce to give it a little more zip.
3. Sprinkle a little cheese on top of the sauce. (This keeps the sauce from running everywhere while you’re folding up the biscuit later.)
4. Put several slices and/or chunks of pepperoni on top of that, then sprinkle a little more cheese.
5. Fold the biscuit around the pepperoni and seal all the edges as best you can. This keeps the sauce from running all over while baking. You also need to make sure to place the pinched side down on the baking sheet. Brushing the top of the unbaked roll with a little milk helps make it turn out a nice brown color.
6. Bake in the oven for the time and temperature indicated on the can of biscuits, usually about 350 degrees for 15 minutes.