|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 193g||248%|
|Saturated Fat 71g||357%|
|Total Carbohydrate 11g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||10%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 8mg||41%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
If you love pepperoni pizza or the flavorful taste of pepperoni in salads or sandwiches, you may be curious about how this sausage is made. It's actually thought of as the American answer to salami—which is why it shares a shape, flavorings, and some culinary uses with the Italian staple.
Pepperoni sausage is made with either pork or beef; this recipe calls for pork butt and beef chuck. The meats are ground, mixed with seasonings, and stuffed into casings. Then the pepperoni needs to hang to cure for at least six weeks. Making pepperoni requires that you plan ahead, but the end result is so worth it.
This recipe uses ascorbic acid, which speeds up the curing process, and something called saltpeter, potassium nitrate, which draws water out and makes the environment inhospitable to bacteria. (You should be able to find both online.) Once you master this recipe, you'll not only have delicious pepperoni but a fun cooking skill that's a mystery to most people.
This recipe appears in the book "Home Sausage Making," by Charles G. Reavis (Storey Books), reprinted with permission.
7 pounds pork butt, fat included, cubed
3 pounds lean beef chuck, round or shank, cubed
5 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon anise seed, crushed
1 teaspoon very finely minced garlic
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid
1 teaspoon saltpeter
4 feet sausage casing
1 tablespoon white vinegar, more or less
- Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparing and drying the sausage.
For the Sausage Mix
Gather the ingredients.
Separately grind pork and beef through the coarse disk.
Mix meats together with salt, sugar, cayenne, paprika, anise seed, garlic, red wine, ascorbic acid, and saltpeter in a large bowl.
Spread mixture out on a large pan, cover loosely with waxed paper, and cure in refrigerator for 24 hours.
Prepare the Casing
Start with about 4 feet of casing. It's better to begin with too much than too little because any extra can be repacked in salt and used later.
Rinse casing under cool running water to remove any salt stuck to it.
Place casing in a bowl of cool water and let soak for about 30 minutes.
After soaking, rinse casing under cool running water. Slip 1 end of the casing over faucet nozzle. Hold casing firmly on nozzle, and turn on cold water, gently at first, and then more forcefully. This will flush out any salt in the casing and pinpoint any breaks. Should you find a break, simply snip out a small section of casing.
Place casing in a bowl of water and add white vinegar; a tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water is sufficient. The vinegar softens casing and makes it more transparent, which makes pepperoni look better. Leave casing in water-vinegar solution until ready to use. Rinse well and drain before stuffing.
Make the Pepperoni
Stuff sausage into casings and twist off into 10-inch links.
Using cotton twine, tie 2 separate knots between every other link, creating pairs of links. Cut between the double knots.
Tie a string to the center of each pair to hang sausages. Hang pepperoni to dry in a space that is 50 F to 55 F with 75 to 80 percent humidity for six to eight weeks. Once dried, the pepperoni will keep, wrapped, in the refrigerator for several months.
- If you find the pepperoni is solid on the outside but mushy on the inside, it means it has cased and needs to be tossed out. This can be due to low levels of humidity during the drying process.
- It is normal for cured sausage to develop a coating of mold on the outside. It is usually a dusty white, and is beneficial as it wards off the bad bacteria. It should be removed before eating.
- If you want to calculate the dry time by weight, you will need to weigh the pepperoni before it is dried and then multiply that number by 0.65 to determine what the finished weight should be, which is 35 to 40 percent less than starting weight.
- Pepperoni comes in different sizes, the most common being about an inch in diameter. Some commercial packers offer "pizza pepperoni," which is roughly twice the diameter of regular pepperoni and isn't as dry. This variety can better withstand the high temperature of a baking pizza. If you plan to use your pepperoni primarily as a pizza topping, you might want to experiment with the drying time for the best results.
If you're handling sausage, you should take steps to prevent contracting trichinosis. Several cases of the illness are reported in the United States annually. It is caused by a parasitic roundworm, Trichinella spiralis, or trichina. The worm, found in some pork and bear meat, can be transmitted to humans if the meat is eaten raw or untreated. Trichinae mature in a person's intestines and are usually killed by the body's defenses. Some, however, can survive in the form of cysts in various muscles for years.
Trichinosis need not be a problem for the home sausage maker. In the case of fresh pork not used for sausage, the meat needs to only be cooked to an internal temperature of 137 F. Pork to be consumed raw, as in dried sausage, can be made completely safe and free of trichinae by freezing it to -20 F for six to 12 days, -10 F for 10 to 20 days, 5 F for 20 to 30 days, or 0 F for 30 to 40 days.
A precise freezer thermometer is necessary when preparing pork for dried sausage. And remember never to taste raw pork or sample sausage if it contains raw pork.
Brian A. Nummer, Ph.D. and Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D., (2002) Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation Literature Review and Critical Preservation Points, The National Center for Home Food Preservation Guide and Literature Review Series: Smoking and Curing