Monday, August 30, 2010

On a roll

Have you ever been struck by the simplicity of something? I mean, just bowled over by how easy and obvious an idea is, and how, despite that, you knew nothing about it?

This is how I feel about pepperoni rolls.

Right hand to God, I never heard of a pepperoni roll until I was dating my husband. Pepperoni pizza? Sure. Bread sticks? Uh huh. Cheesy sticks? Absolutely. But the idea of simply combining pizza dough with spicy slices of pepperoni? Never thought of it.

For the uninitiated who are as clueless as I was, they are just as good as they sound. In the classic, it's nothing but bread and meat, but in baking, the pepperoni releases its savory oils and bathes the dough in flavor. I like to add a sprinkling of parmesan cheese for a salty counterpoint.

You also often see them fashioned in a kind of knot shape that traps all that goodness inside, but I think this has a downside. You end up with pockets of spice in the midst of crusty bread. I like to make mine in a jelly roll configuration that insures regular intervals of flavor and structure.

1 ball pizza dough (or one recipe of homemade, or one tube of the popping fresh variety)
3 oz. pepperoni
1/4 c. shredded or grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet or a pizza stone.

Roll out dough into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Scatter pepperoni evenly across the dough. Top with parmesan. Roll up in cinnamon roll fashion, pinching closed. Slice into inch-thick slices. Place cut side down on baking sheet or stone. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. (Yeah, you'll probably have to throw yourself on some fresh baked bread to see if it's done. The ultimate sacrifice.)

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