Have you ever read the ingredient list on a package of commercial pepperoni or looked closely at a slice of it and wondered what all those "bits" were? Exactly!! Pretty gross thought wasn't it?? Well, now I have pepperoni and I know EXACTLY what is in it.
The recipe I decided to try is very simple because it does not involve sausage casings or a smoke house or any weird preservatives. It's just meat and spices baked in the oven at a super low temperature for 8 hours ............ and it was really good (even picky-picky husband love it!!)
1 pound of ground pork (see note below)
1 pound of ground beef (very lean, I used 96%)
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (see notes)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 slightly heaping teaspoons salt (see notes)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
Grind the dry spices together (I used my mortar and pestle) until they are roughly ground (it doesn't have to be super fine).
Mix the two ground meats together (I used my stand mixer). Then mix in the spices, the liquid smoke and 1/4 cup water. After it's well mixed. Cover it well, and chill it for 48 hours.
After 48 hours, mix again and roll the mixture into 2 logs and place them on a foil lined baking sheet (make sure the baking sheet has a lip).
Bake in a pre-heated 200° oven for 8 hours. Most of the recipes tell you to keep turning the "logs" every two hours, as they bake, but I didn't turn them at all, and they were fine. Your house is going to smell wonderful!!
After 8 hours, they will look like this:
The "pepperoni" logs will be quite firm to the touch when they come out of the oven. Since I used very lean mean, I didn't have much grease in the bottom of my pan, but, if you use a fattier grade of meat, you might have to wipe off any obvious grease on the outside of the baked sausages before you chill them.
CHILL BEFORE YOU SLICE !!
Let the baked logs cool a little, then wrap them in plastic wrap and chill them until they are very cold before you slice them. Use a sharp knife and slice the sausages very thin.
We were very pleasantly surprised how easy this was to make and what a nice flavor it had. We will definitely be making this recipe again!!
NOTES: For the ground pork, a small pork butt roast works great because it has the right amount of fat, but you can also just buy a pound of ground pork (UNseasoned....not sausage).
UPDATE: Since posting this recipe, I've tried the same spice mixture with ALL ground pork and I think we like the texture even better. If you use ALL pork, just reduce the cooking time to 6 hours.
NOTES: I used 1 1/4 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes and it was just the right amount of heat for us, but then we are pretty timid when it comes to food heat tolerance. If you like spicy pepperoni, just add more flakes.
NOTES: Several of the recipe I found online called for Morton's Tender Quick which has salt, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite and propylene glycol in it. The only advantage to using that product (that I can see) is to give your sausage that bright pink color. Since that is not important to me (and I tend to keep my pepperoni in the freezer)I just used plain old table salt and it worked fine.