Lots of us have made Bear's pepperoni snack sticks and his pepperoni loaf. I have and they are my favourite snack sticks.
Here is the link for his thread and recipe:
I usually make them into unstuffed logs by running the meat through my LEM Stuffer with no casings and then smoking them. They turn out great but look a little rough. Bear solved this by making the snacks in a loaf and then slicing them. This improves the appearance.
My other problem was the texture. It was very good but a little coarser than I like. So, this time I made a few changes in the procedure to try and make it a bit finer blend.
I followed Bear's ingredients but scaled them back to use 4 pounds of meat. Instead of using 4 pounds of 80/20 hamburger, I used 3 pounds of what is called lean ground beef here in Canada. It is a bit leaner at 17% fat. Then I ground up one pound of pork shoulder butt steak through the fine plate of my Kitchen Aid.
I mixed up the spices and liquids as Bear suggested. It is critical that you adjust the Tender Quick to match the amount of meat you use. I used 26 grams for the four pounds. If you use too much, it can make you ill. If you use too little, toxins can form in the meat from bacteria.
As for the other spices, I didn't change anything. I used the same proportions as Bear as I really like the flavour profile.
I added the spices and liquid to the meat and mixed it thoroughly by folding vigorously for 3 minutes. Here is where I made a second change. I then put the meat in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid and beat it with the mixing paddle for 3 minutes at medium. I didn't do it all at once as I was afraid of burning out the Kitchen Aid and I didn't want the meat to break. I would mix it for a minute and then put it in the fridge for 15 minutes to cool. Then I did a second mixing for a minute, another 15 minutes in the fridge and a last mixing for a minute.
I didn't use a foil tray like Bear. I used a 12 by 9 inch pyrex cake pan. I lined it with cellophane. I pushed the beef in and covered it with cellophane and put it in the fridge for four hours. Then, I turned the meat onto a smoker rack and left it in the fridge overnight uncovered to develop pellicle.
I put it in the smoker and followed Bear's recommendations for smoking:
One hour at 140 F with no smoke
3 hours at 140 F stating smoke (I used oak/whisky barrell)
2 hours at 160 F
2 hours at 180 F
To and internal temperature of 165 at a smoking temperature of 200 F (this took about an hour)
I wiped the meat down on both sides with paper towel to remove any excess fat (there was very little). Then I put it in the fridge overnight.
I sliced the loaf on the bias to get the thickness of snack I wanted and then cut them in half to get the size I wanted. I wrapped them in six slice packages of cellophane and then put the packages in a Ziploc for the freezer.
These turned out great. Of course, they had the great taste of Bear's snacks as I stuck with his seasoning ingredients. However, the touch of pork and the extra processing of the meat gave me a more dense and smooth snack than my prior efforts. I really like that. I'm not saying it is better, just more to my tastes.
Many thanks to Bearcarver for this recipe, I have really enjoyed it.
If you make great pepperoni snacks you have to enjoy them. I used some of the trimmings to make a grilled cheese sandwich. However, if you are using a great product like Bear's snacks, you need to up your game. I used whole wheat French bread, smoked provolone, smoked cave aged gruyere and the cuttings from the snacks.
This is the best grilled cheese sandwich I've ever had.