Friday, September 7, 2012

Meat Roll Ups

You may not believe me, but I'll let you in on a secret: refrigerated biscuits were my first love.  At the tender age of three, I was slapping raw rounds of pre-sliced dough into a greased cake pan, and staring through the oven door, counting down the minutes ‘til those hot flaky goodies were on my plate.

So cute!
Although I make my share of homemade bread, I cannot deny my undying love of a buttery crescent roll – sweet vessel of chemical yeastiness that it is. I love the anticipation – like waiting for a firework to burst – as you slowly, slowly, slowly unwrap the paper from the canister until it explodes.  I love how the biscuits are perfectly pre-perforated, like the Pillsbury Doughboy himself has been busy with the kitchen shears inside the tube.

This recipe, a cut-out from an unnamed magazine, starts like so many relics of the 80's, with the immortal words: “Brown ground beef and soup mix in a skillet.” (Ah, sweet dreams of Hamburger Helper!) And though the name shows a singular lack of imagination, its mission is clear: Improve on the already-perfect crescent roll by stuffing it with beef, cheese and onion soup mix. I'm in!

Hungry already, aren't you?
Although browning the beef and soup mix was a sensory delight, patting miniscule dabs of beefy cheese filling onto half a triangle of flabby dough did not for a relaxing weeknight meal-prep make. I wish there was a photo with this recipe, because I’m fairly certain these tidbits were meant as an appetizer. I mean, when was the last time you halved a crescent roll? I know this is the millennium of excess, but still, I think, cocktail hour or no, we could all probably eat more than half a biscuit.

I wish computers had scratch-n-sniff.
After rolling 16 of these teeny tiny “pigs in blanket”-style cocktail weenies, I decided to super size. The full-size crescent roll holds about 1 T. of filling and you don’t need 20 of them to make a meal. They’re not as cute as the little piggies – I mean, I almost cooed when the babies came out of the oven, all golden brown and perfectly adorable.  But then the thought of rolling another 32 dropkicked me back to reality.

Taste-wise, these don't disappoint. The crescent roll is buttery and flaky, and creates a nice crust around the seasoned meat and cheese.  But they’re shockingly unsubstantial. I ate three big ones, and only consumed 3 T. of meat. Total. They’re cute as a button and easy to boot, but you’ll want to save them for a pre-dinner nosh. I’ve got 16 of them headed for my freezer, so if you stop by at cocktail hour, you know what I’ll be serving.

Meat Roll Ups
Mom (bottom) and babies (top).
1 pound lean ground beef
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3 8-ounce packages refrigerated crescent rolls

Combine beef and soup mix in skillet and cook over medium-high heat until meat is browned. Drain off any excess fat. Stir in cheese and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Roll out dough. Cut each crescent in half, making 16 triangles from each package. Place a heaping teaspoonful of meat mixture on each triangle and roll to enclose. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, tucking point of dough under roll. Bake 13 to 15 minutes. Serve warm, or let cool and freeze. To serve after freezing, warm in preheated 325-degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

·      I found it helpful to mound the beef mixture onto one end of the dough before rolling – squeezing into a sausage shape, almost.
·      These would be good dipped into marinara.
·      The super size version takes 15 minutes in the oven, and about 1T. of filling.
·      Goodness, is powdered onion soup mix a salt bomb. If there is a low-sodium version of this helper, I’d be on-board. Otherwise, have a pitcher of water nearby.

Why Don’t You …
·      Take the recipe’s direction and freeze a batch of these for an impromptu get-together. Think how glamorous you’ll feel when an unannounced guest arrives, and you mosey over to the deep freeze: “What? These scrumptious things? Why, I whipped them up ages ago!”

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