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Pepperoni

Ever since the “gourmet” trend took hold, well over a generation ago, hip pizza with pepperoni toppings have become part of our regular snack diet.


Definition

Pepperoni is a slice of a highly spiced pork and beef sausage. This popular sausage is medium-chopped and seasoned with black and red pepper and fine spices, giving it a hot sensation with a sweet aftertaste. It is often regarded as the American counterpart to Spanish-style chorizo, which is usually similar in color and flavor.

Most of the red color in commercial pepperoni is from paprika.There are many different varieties of pepperoni, some decidedly hotter than others, but most if not all rely on a beef and pork combination. All are quite pungent. Pepperoni come in different sizes, the most common being about an inch in diameter. Some commercial packers put up what they call "pizza pepperoni" which is about twice the diameter of regular pepperoni and is not as dry. This type is better able to withstand the high temperature of a baking pizza without becoming a crispy critter.

 

Culinary Applications
This slender, firm, air-dried sausage is ready to eat, often sliced very thin and used as an appetizer. It can also be used to add flavor to many cooked dishes, as those who love pepperoni pizza will attest. These days, enterprising cooks rely on pepperoni’s delicious spicy flavor to add zest to a wide variety of dishes. In addition to perking up pizza, pepperoni is an ideal partner for sandwiches, salads, pasta or nachos.

Although at times it is also made of times goat, turkey, or fish. Apparently the pepperoni have descended from the spicy salamis of Southern Italy, such as salsiccia Napoletana piccante, a spicy dry sausage from Naples or the Soppressata from Calabria.

It is a popular topping for American styled pizzas. Pepperoni is by far America's favorite topping, (36% of all pizza orders). Approximately 251,770,000 pounds of pepperoni are consumed on pizzas annually. Other popular pizza toppings are mushrooms, extra cheese, sausage, green pepper and onions.

Considered a dry variety of salami, this Italian-American delicacy besides pizza, is delicious with crackers, cheese and other meats on an antipasto tray.

Varieties of Pepperoni

  • Bite-size pepperoni
  • Diced pepperoni
  • Extra-thick slices pepperoni
  • Hot & spicy pepperoni
  • Mild pepperoni
  • Original pepperoni
  • Pepperoni wallet pack
  • Pillow Pack pepperoni
  • Pillow Pack turkey pepperoni
  • Sandwich style pepperoni
  • Sliced pepperoni
  • Turkey pepperoni
 

Etymology
The word 'Pepperoni' has been derived from the Italian word peperoni the plural of peperone meaning bell peppers. All over the European continent peperone is a common word for various types of capsicum including bell peppers and a small, spicy and often pickled pepper known as peperoncino or peperone piccante in Italy and pepperoncini or banana peppers in the US.

Pepperoni is called salame piccante or salamino piccante (hot salami, generally typical of Calabria) in Italy. The Italian name for a pepperoni pizza is pizza alla diavola (with hot sausages).

 

Making of Pepperoni
Makes: 10 pounds

  • 7 pounds pre-frozen or certified pork butt, cubed, fat included*
  • 3 pounds lean beef chuck, round or shank, cubed
  • 5 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoons crushed anise seed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid
  • 1 teaspoon saltpeter
  • 6 feet small (1/2-inch diameter) hog casings
 

1. Grind the pork and beef through the coarse disk separately
2. Mix the meats together with the remaining ingredients
3. Spread the mixture out in a large pan, cover loosely with waxed paper, and cure in the refrigerator for twenty-four hours
4. Prepare the casings
5. Stuff the sausage into the casings and twist off into then-inch links
6. Using cotton twine, tie two separate knots between every other link, and one knot at the beginning and another at the end of the stuffed casing
7. Cut between the double knots. This results in pairs of ten-inch links. The pepperoni are hung by a string tied to the center of each pair
8. Hang the pepperoni to dry for six to eight weeks. Once dried, the pepperoni will keep, wrapped, in the refrigerator for several months.

 
Preparing the Casing
Snip off about four feet of casing. Rinse the casing under cool running water to remove any salt clinging to it. Place it in a bowl of cool water and let it soak for about half an hour. While you're waiting for the casing to soak, you can begin preparing the meat as detailed below. After soaking, rinse the casing under cool running water. Slip one end of the casing over the faucet nozzle. Hold the casing firmly on the nozzle, and then turn on the cold water, gently at first, and then more forcefully. This procedure will flush out any salt in the casing and pinpoint any breaks. Should you find a break, simply snip out a small section of the casing. Place the casing in a bowl of water and add a splash of white vinegar. A tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water is sufficient. The vinegar softens the casing a bit more and makes it more transparent, which in turn makes your sausage more pleasing to the eye. Leave the casing in the water/vinegar solution until you are ready to use it. Rinse it well and drain before stuffing.
 
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