Comfort food from Virginia to you

May 18, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

A few tenets of Southern comfort food - chicken, rolls and cheese - are all you need for Linda Royal's chicken roll-ups.

It's a crescent roll stuffed with pulled chicken, cream cheese, black pepper and mushrooms, topped with a thick cheese sauce. Serve the roll-ups with wild rice and green veggies.

Royal, a Virginia native, received the recipe from a friend in Danville, Va. Royal enjoys making the roll-ups for her husband, Bob Royal, pastor of Zion United Church of Christ in Hagerstown. They live just north of Hagerstown.

"My husband would like me to make them once a week," Linda Royal said. But it's really more like four or five times a year, she said.


Chicken roll-ups are fast, taking a half hour to bake. Prep time takes about an hour, Royal said. The bulk of the work comes from assembling the roll-ups, hardly any work at all.

Canned ingredients cut down on some of the prep time. She uses store-bought dough, canned mushrooms and Campbell's cream of chicken soup.

But the canned goods do not cut into the taste.

The flavor comes from the cheese sauce, which has white wine and a dash of garlic. It is made thick and rich by the sour cream, mayonnaise and cream of chicken soup. Royal likes to pour the extra sauce on steamed broccoli.

Resist the urge to overseason. Garlic and pepper are the only spices on the list. But once you factor in the sweetness of the crescent rolls, the peppered chicken inside and the tanginess of the cheese on top, you'll find there's plenty of flavor to work with.

As a young girl growing up in Virginia, she would start supper when she got home from school, so that it would be ready when her mother came home from work.

To this day, Royal still uses her mother's from-scratch spaghetti sauce recipe, which takes four hours to stew. Now that's a bit of work.

Chicken roll-ups

2 3-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed and pulled apart
4-ounce can of chopped mushrooms, drained
2 cans Pillsbury crescent rolls, eight rolls in each can

Cheese sauce:

10 3/4-ounce can of cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
Dash of garlic powder
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the cream cheese, butter and pepper. Fold in the chicken and mushrooms. You can also cream the ingredients in a food processor, then add the chicken and mushroom and process until the mixture is slightly chunky.

Prepare one roll-up at a time. Use the palm of your hand to flatten out a dough triangle. Place about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture onto the center of the dough. Fold wide end over the mixture. Fold in the sides and then pull the pointed end up and over. Pinch all the edges closed and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining rolls and filling.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

While the roll-ups are cooking, prepare the cheese sauce. Combine all of the ingredients except the mayonnaise. Cook over low heat until the sauce is smooth and bubbly. Add the mayonnaise to the sauce shortly before serving the roll-ups. Plate the roll-ups and pour the sauce over.

Makes 16 roll-ups.

- Courtesy of Linda Royal

Talking with Linda Royal

Q: What are some things you grew up making?

A: I make a lot of casseroles, I have a couple of chicken casserole recipes. I make spinach lasagna ... One of my favorite things is my derby pie and that is a big hit at the church. They really like that. I take that to church an awful lot.

Q: What's a derby pie?

A: It's very rich. It has brown sugar and butter and chocolate chips and pecans and vanilla in it. And you mix it all up and put it in a pie shell and bake it and it's really, really good.

Q: Yeah, I'm sold.

A: (Laughs; begins to assemble roll-ups.) We did a church cookbook last year and I put this (roll-up) recipe in the cookbook, but I have not heard whether anyone has tried it or not.

Q: That might change, you know? Once this comes out.

A: Hopefully.

Q: What are some other things you enjoy eating? You mentioned you like to cook a lot of casseroles.

A: I fix a seven-layer salad that we really like. I have fruit salad that I fix.

Q: But if you're not doing the cooking? What would you love to eat?

A: I'd go to the Olive Garden and eat anything on the menu. That's one of my favorites, and we like Mexican food, too.

Q: Any food you won't eat?

A: No. I can't think of anything. When I first married Bob, he said, "I'll eat anything you fix, but don't ever fix Brussels sprouts." He said, "My mom fixed them every week when I was growing up and I hate 'em." And to this day, I've never fixed Brussels sprouts for him. But I think I like just about everything. I'm not a picky eater. Sometimes I wish I was. ... Ice cream is my favorite of all - any kind.

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