One of the many great Kentucky food items is the hot brown. Originating from Louisville’s Brown Hotel, this open-faced sandwich with a rich mornay sauce is a must-try if you’re visiting Kentucky. I needed to come up with an appetizer for another girls night and decided to try and replicate this favorite in a one-handed appetizer with minimal prep time.
I’d say these pinwheels are “hot brown-inspired” and not so much a direct interpretation of the dish. Instead of a mornay sauce, I decided to simplify things and use cream cheese. I also used country ham instead of the turkey and bacon usually found in a hot brown. I think the country ham fits well in this Kentucky-themed recipe, but feel free to stay traditional and use thin-sliced deli turkey and crumbled bacon.
You can make so many yummy appetizers with crescent roll dough. I love playing around with different toppings for pinwheels like these. Pillsbury even makes dough without the perforations now so that you don’t have to worry about pinching the seams together for recipes like this. They’re called Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations Seamless Dough Sheets and are found in the grocery right next to the regular crescent rolls.
These roll ups are so easy to put together and can even be made ahead and frozen – perfect for tailgating and entertaining. I made them for a girl’s night and, I kid you not, they disappeared within five minutes of setting down the tray! The pinwheels are elegant enough to serve at a cocktail party, but also appetizing to all ages, so sure to be a hit with kids too!
- 1 roll crescent dough
- 1 package Neufchatel cheese (or any other cream cheese), softened
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 roma tomato
- ¼ pound country ham, sliced thin (you’ll need approximately 6 slices)
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Approximately ¼ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish
- salt and pepper
- Dice your roma tomato and place in colander to drain, season with salt and pepper.*
- Add softened cream cheese, cheddar cheese, drained tomatoes, nutmeg, paprika and garlic powder to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir together with a spatula making sure ingredients are combined evenly.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out crescent roll dough onto paper, gently stretching edges.
- Spread cream cheese mixture evenly across dough with a spatula.
- Place slices of country ham on top of cream cheese mixture, distributing evenly.
- Cut dough in half at its width (see photo below for clarification).
- Starting with the fatter side, roll dough creating a pinwheel shape and pinching the seam together to ensure you don’t lose any of those yummy fillings!
- Repeat with other half of dough. Wrap dough logs with parchment paper and transfer to the freezer.
- Let freeze for at least 2 hours or up to one week ahead of serving.
- 30 minutes prior to serving, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from freezer and slice dough logs creating pinwheels roughly ⅓ inch thick. Place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Grate Pecorino Romano cheese over top of pinwheels.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes, until crescent dough develops a light golden-brown color.
- Let rest for 3-5 minutes before serving & enjoy!
- *It's important to let the tomato juice drain so your pinwheels won't be soggy!