Pepperoni sticks are a great introduction to air-drying cured meat at home. The process is very quick and very forgiving: even if you don’t have a whiz-bang curing chamber with perfect temperature and humidity control, you can probably make these pepperoni sticks at home and be very pleased with the result. And if for some reason you are worried that the whole process has gone sideways, just hot-smoke them or cook them and they will still be delicious. This is one of the recipes we make in my More Charcuterie at Home class, which is all about curing and air-drying meats.
These are meant to emulate the pepperoni sticks you get at gas station convenience stores. The recipe was developed by Eric Jalbert at Salz Bratwurst. I was super skeptical when he first started making them. First because they aren’t German. Second because it seemed like one of those strange hipster projects that take nostalgic, industrially-produced food items and try to make them by hand from scratch using quality ingredients. I haven’t done the search, but I imagine there a hipsters in Brooklyn making Pringles and Soda-licious fruit snacks with organic ingredients. Anyways, despite my doubt, Eric’s pepperoni sticks 100% won me over. They are delicious, addictive, and a supreme bar snack.
Pepperoni Sticksrecipe by Eric Jalbert
- 1 kg pork butt
- 23 g kosher salt
- 2.2 g FS Cure #1
- 5 g white sugar (at Salz we actually used 4 g of glucono delta lactone)
- 6.25 g sweet paprika
- 2.5 g black pepper
- 2.5 g cayenne pepper
- 1 g coriander
- 1.25 g fennel
- 6 g minced garlic
- 0.7 g lactic acid starter culture (Or follow the specs on your culture packaging. The MondoStart that I use calls for 0.5 g per kilo meat.)
- 50 g ice water
- Cube the pork butt. Spread it on a sheet tray and chill very thoroughly. Grind through a 3/16″ plate. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Add the salt, curing salt, sugar, paprika, pepper, cayenne, coriander, fennel, and garlic to the ground meat.
- Dissolve the lactic acid starter culture in the water. Add to the ground meat.
- Mix using paddle attachment for 60 seconds on lowest speed. Scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Stuff mixture into lamb casings, either 19-21 or 22-24. Link as desired. Use a sausage pricker to perforate casings.
- Incubate at a very warm room temperature (ideally close to 30°C) for 12 hours.
At this point you have a couple options!
- Full air-dry. If you have a good curing set-up (ie. 12-15°C and 60-80% RH) you can do a “full dry”, that is, treat these just like salami and let them dry. The final taste and texture will be more like real-deal Italian salami.
- Part air-dry and hot-smoke. You can leave them to hang for a day or two, and then hot-smoke so that they reach an internal temperature of 65°C and are fully cooked. The texture will be a touch drier, mealier… but in a way that makes it more like the Hot Rods from the gas station.