Pepperoni Problem

  • I made a 5# batch of pepperoni over the weekend.
    It is not as stiff as it should be, I can press my finger against it and it will dimple.
    Other than that it tastes great, looks great, smells great and everyone is eating it up, its is just that it has more the consistency and feel of a regular sausage than a stick of pepperoni.
    Here is what I did:
    Meat…half pork butt, half beef chuck
    Tenderquick, 1 teaspoon per pound plus one extra (six teaspoons)
    Wine, about a cup
    Water, about half a cup
    No extra salt, just what was in the Tenderquick.
    I made the cubed the meat on Saturday, cubed it, put in the cure, spices, wine and water, then mixed it and ground it up.
    Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator over night.
    Next day, I stuffed it into natural hog casings.
    To cook it, I put it in the smoker (without smoke at this point) at 130 degrees for two hours
    Next, I kicked up the temperature to 150 degrees for another two hours, still no smoke.
    Last I raised it to an internal temp of 170 degrees. This took about half an hour from the 150 degree mark and thats when I added the wood chips for smoke. When it hit 170 degrees I took it out of the smoker.
    Next, it went into an ice water bath for about 20 minutes.
    Last, I hung it up again to air out indoors for about an hour, then put it away in the refrigerator.
    It is a Master built electric smoker, I made a rack so the sticks hang vertically.
    Sadly, the 5lb batch will be gone by tomorrow evening, and everyone loves how it tastes. It just needs some help with its presentation.
    So what did I miss and how do I get it to be stiffer like pepperoni should be?


  • @ed_orum I do not have anything to offer regarding the texture but I have read that meat will not absorb any smoke once the IT reaches 160 degrees. That may not ably to the casing. Typically if I am smoking some that will get wrapped I wait until the IT reaches that 160 degree mark.

  • Admin

    Does the meat have less firmness than any other type of “normal” sausage? I wonder if you are comparing stiffness and texture to a dry cured pepperoni…? What some people think of as pepperoni is not processed in the same way as other sausages like brats, summer sausage, snack sticks, etc. It can be a true dried sausage that is fermented and dry cured, but not ever truly cooked or thermally processed. That is a lot of what gives pepperoni it’s hard firmness and specific texture when eating. That is just not something that can be completely replicated in a cooked sausage. I think the dryness is a big key there, but the texture cannot be fully emulated if we are comparing something thermally processed to not.

    Other than that, what I think is one of the best ways to make pepperoni, without doing the old-world dry cured and fermented sausage, is what we go through in our standard pepperoni recipe shown here:
    I would check out your process compared to that one, and see if there are things you can change to match it.
    The last time we made pepperoni here, it was amazing!!

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  • @papasop I have a response from the manufacturer…
    They said that they designed the mixer in a way that it would not need to run in reverse for a long time. It should mix efficiently enough in one direction and it was designed to mix in just 1 direction. So, using the grinder in any scenario (grinding or mixing) you should limit the reverse time to approximately 5 seconds at one time.

    My own opinion on the mixing is that I wouldn’t mix in just 1 direction though. I think there is still a benefit to going in reverse, even if temporarily, so I think my course of action for the future will probably be to mix 90% of the time in 1 direction, but still do the reverse in the 5 second interval. Probably something like 30 to 60 seconds forward, 5 seconds backward, then another 30 to 60 forward, etc… I think that would get enough benefit of a direction mix cycle, but still limit the reverse action as much as possible.

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  • @jonathon Moscow Mules!! I’m sold. Will It BBQ is on the way soon for sure!

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  • @alan Lol, I’m an idiot, just the other day I said that I am fully capable of thinking one thing and typing something else! Getting information from an old timer is usually a great way to go! Glad you got it worked out though! Send pictures of them!

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  • @Danbow Back when I was in customer service I know I talked to someone who either said his wife did it exactly how you are explaining it or I talked to the woman who did it, I wonder if I was talking to either you or your wife?!

    Wrapping it in foil would keep more moisture in the product, same basic process that some people do when they are smoking ribs. I can absolutely see how this would work and I think the way she is doing it, without a casing, would be more effective when wrapping it in foil. I don’t think you’ll ever convert me from using a casing but we might be making some updates here and when we do I might have access to an oven and will give this a try!

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  • A

    Lol, no rice in Andoullie. You are thinking of Boudin.
    I spoke to an Old Timer Cajun down here and he said, after you cure your meat for 24 hours, spray and moisten the meat just before stuffing it. If the stuffing is too dry, the meat will shrink when smoked and it will make voids between the stuffing and casing.
    The recipe I use is hundred plus years ago and I added some modern safeguards and seasonings. By the way, I use Boston Butt & Cushion Meat, in lieu of the hogs head and neck.
    The Smoke Houses are selling it for over $10 a pound here and I can make it for $1.30.
    LaPlace, LA is, The Andoullie Capital of the World!

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  • H

    @jonathon Thank you for your quick and detailed response. It is greatly appreciated. Just another reason why Walton’s is the best. For some reason, I thought that you needed to soak the collagen before loading it on the stuffing horn. Thanks for the correction there.

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