Morton's Recipe for Pepperoni

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by tasunkawitko, Dec 24, 2011.

  1. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Morton's Recipe for Pepperoni


    Prep Time: 20 Minutes (Refrigerate Overnight)
    Servings: 1 pound



    1 pound lean ground beef
    1-1/2 level teaspoons Morton® Tender Quick® mix or Morton® Sugar Cure® (plain)
    1 teaspoon liquid smoke
    3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
    1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, slightly crushed
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    1/4 teaspoon anise seed
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder



    Combine all ingredients, mixing until thoroughly blended. Divide mixture in half. Shape each half into slender roll about 1-1/2 inch in diameter. Wrap in plastic or foil. Refrigerate overnight. Unwrap rolls and place on broiler pan.

    Bake at 325°F until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of a roll reads 160°F, 50 to 60 minutes. Store wrapped in refrigerator. Use within 3 to 5 days or freeze for later use. If Morton Meat Curing products are not available at your local grocery store, the products can be ordered throught the Morton Salt online store.


    Ron's notes: With this recipe, I notice on one hand that we're not dealing with the fermenting, cases, and temperature controls normally involved with pepperoni - but on the other hand, the flavours involved are just right, and it is my belief that this method is just right for someone who is just starting out in charcuterie or someone who might not have access to all the specialized equipment or ingredients.

    Here's how it went down when I attempted this with ground venison last year. I apologize in advance for the (lack of) quality of some of the pictures. My camera at the time sucked. There's no polite way to say it, and I'm an 80's kid, so I'll simply say that it sucked. The flash washed out a few times and the colour was off on a few, but the pix will be adequate for you to get the idea, hopefully.

    Here's the stuff needed for a triple batch, less the ground venison:

    Tenderquick, oatmeal (for binding), garlic powder, fennel seed, anise seed, mustard seed, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper and beer (for binding). Pretty simple stuff.

    Recipe note: The recipe calls for liquid smoke, but since I was going to smoke this pepperoni in my Little Chief smoker, I omitted it.

    A note on binding: Because I used 100% ground venison that was 100% fat-free, I chose to try a binding agent consisting of ground oatmeal, with some beer to provide moisture for the oatmeal (water would work just as well). A binding agent was not totally necessary, since I have made a similar venison bologna with venison that had no binder, and it turned out just fine, albeit a bit crumbly. The oatmeal/beer binder worked quite well, and I recommend it for anyone wanting a natural, easy-to-find substitute for the fat and binding agents found in a lot of ground, cured meats. One-quarter-cup of ground oatmeal and an equal amount of beer per pound of meat seems to work just about right.

    The thought of a cured specialty such as pepperoni might be complicated or even intimidating, but it really doesn't have to be. First, I added the recommended amount of tenderquick to the ground deer meat:

    Morton recommends 1.5 teaspoons of cure per pound of ground or thinly-sliced meat, so I used 4.5 teaspoons for three pounds of venison.

    Next comes the rest of the seasonings and spices - the mustard seed:

    Fennel seed and anise seed, crushed with the handle of a knife:

    Black pepper, garlic powder and crushed red pepper flakes:

    Then I mixed everything well, to distribute the spices and the cure as thoroughly as possible, and prepared to try my oatmeal binding experiment. I don't recall exactly how much i used, but judging by the picture below:

    I am figuring about a quarter-cup per pound, since the capacity of the food processror is 1 cup. I then gave the oatmeal a hearty whirl around in the food processor, until it was thoroughly pulverised:

    Next, I added half the bottle of beer to the meat mixture (figuring one quarter-cup per pound of meat):

    And then added the oatmeal:

    After stirring the mixture around to get everything incorporated well, I divided the venison into half-pound portions and shaped them into six rolls, about 2 inches in diameter. Then I wrapped the rolls tightly in saran wrap:

    The rolls are actually a little larger in diameter than they should be, but they were about right for what I wanted. "Proper" rolls would have been longer and smaller in diameter. The white specks from the oatmeal loked pretty good mixed in the meat, which was already starting to smell just like you would expect pepperoni to smell, and I was thinking that I had a pretty good thing going here.

    I put the rolls in the refrigerator overnight to chill, bind and set up while the tenderquick worked its curing magic. The next morning I put the rolls on the racks for my smoker:

    And let them develop a bit of a pellicle while I set up my smoker and brought it up to "cruising temperature:"

    The Little Chief electric smokehouse is perfect for this type of thing. It's not meant for smoke-cooking, since it doesn't get up to real cooking temperatures for large hunks of meat; however, it does wonders for cooler smoking and is perfect for things such as jerky, sausages, snack sticks, nuts and other such things.

    As you can see in the picture above, I used maple wood chips for this project. Here's a closer shot of them in the pan:

    Note to anyone reading this: If you know where I can get a supply of these wood chips, please let me know, as they were the best I've ever used, and I don't know where to get anymore!

    The outside temperature that day was well below zero, which of course dramatically affected the aforementioned "cruising temperature." I know that the internal temperature of the venison would never reach 160. Luckily, the wind wasn't blowing, but nevertheless, it was still pretty darned cold. With this in mind, I simply smoked the pepperoni for a couple-three hours, using 3 or 4 pans of chips, then put the racks in a 325-degree oven until they reached temperature. Then I took them out:

    And immediately plunged them into a bowl of very cold water:

    It looks like a few bits sloughed off, but that's ok - we had some good stuff going here! They also look a little distorted in the water, but who's keeping track?

    I kept them in the ice-cold water for about half an hour; believe it or not, we didn't have any ice in the house at the time, but no worries - I simply put the bowl out in the shed to keep cold...very cold. Then I wrapped them in saran wrap after drying them off and put them in the refrigerator overnight to let them rest.

    The next day, I was eager to try this, so I took a roll and sliced it up:

    Note: It wasn't really THIS pink - what you see is bad photography from a cheap camera! And the ragged-looking slices are more my fault than anything else; the oatmeal binder actually worked pretty darn well, and I will be using it again.

    Anyway, I arranged the slices on a platter:

    Added some cheese and crackers, and gave it a try.

    Results were very good, and I will be making this again, most likely within a couple of months. The flavours of pepperoni were definitely all there, and i really enjoyed it. I will admit that it was missing the tangy, fermented quality of "proper" pepperoni, but as I said above, this is a very good alternative for those who do not have access to specialised ingredients or equipment.

    Thanks for looking, and please let me know how you like it if you give it a try.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  2. jrod62

    jrod62 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    looks great [​IMG]

    have to put this on the "to do list"
  3. you could use some fermento, or encapsulated citric acid, or even buttermilk I hear, to give it that "tang" you were looking for
  4. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great tutorial and even better results!  I wonder if you tossed in a couple teaspoons of encapsulated citric acid if it would mimic that tangy taste of fermentation?
  5. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    It looks great TW!

    Fermento will give it a bit of tang.

    Here's a recipe that I use.

    SPICY PEPPERONI                                  Total cook time:

                                                                     About 10-12 hours

    4 lbs 70/30 ground beef

    1 ½ tbs cayenne pepper

    2 tbs Spanish paprika

    4/5  tsp cure #1

    2 oz Fermento

    6 cloves crashed fresh garlic

    4 tsp black pepper

    4 tsp mustard seed

    1 tbs crushed fennel seed

    1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes

    1 tbs garlic powder

    2 tsp sugar

    2 tbs salt

    1 cup ice water (add all the dry to the water) and mix in blender.

    Mix with meat & stuff in 38 mm collagen casings or if you want bigger tubes use fibrous 2 ½ inch summer sausage casings.  Leave in fridge overnight

    Smoke for:

    2 hours pre heat @120 f with no smoke  

    2 hours @ 140 f with smoke

    Then 175 f till IT is 155 with smoke

    Remove from smoker & put in ice water bath until cool

    Then refrigerate with no cover for 1 week to dry them out
  6. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Now I like your recipe for the pepperoni there Tasunkawitko. I'm not sure about the oatmeal thou Now your ecipes looks good to AL.
  7. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Looks great Witco....................................[​IMG]   I Just got some pepperoni casings....  You are inspiring me................[​IMG]

  8. rdknb

    rdknb Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    another to do for me, looks great
  9. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    thanks guys - you're probably right about the ECA, fermento, and other fermenting agents, but that's getting back to the specialised ingredients that i don't have ready access to.

    except buttermilk! big casino - could you provide a few details?

    paul - the oatmeal binder worked like a charm, making up for the fact that there was 0% fat in the mixture.

    al - it looks great! may have to try it ~
  10. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I haven't tried pepperoni on the smoker yet, so I'm just blowing smoke here. ( have done it unstuffed in an oven)

    I did notice that Al's recipe used 70/30 ground beef.  That would give a little more binding power and a little tighter crumb in the finished product.

    In todays world it is unpopular to say so, but there are times when I like the 30% fat ground beef.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  11. here ya go witko

    this was taken from a webiste

    "Any sausage recipes using "Fermento" can be made by either using dry buttermilk solids as a replacement, or possibly liquid buttermilk to replace the liquid portion of the sausage recipe. and in my humble opinion works equally as well as Fermento."

    resource :

    I have read this in a few other places too, but don't recall where specifically, I found this on a quick search

    hope it helps
  12. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    Looks great i may try this one.[​IMG]
  13. johnnie walker

    johnnie walker Smoking Fanatic

    I like the looks of this pepperoni. I might just have to give this a try.
  14. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Morton MTQ Pepperoni. You will need to adjust if making more than the 1 lb.

    For 1 lb

    1 lb ground beef

    1.5 level tsp MTQ

    1 tsp liq smoke (OPT) If baked in the oven for 4 hours at 200* on elevated rack on a cookie sheet. Fatty style roll, IT 155-160

    1/2 tsp mustard seed

    1/2 tsp slightly crushed fennel seed

    1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

    1/2 tsp anise seed

    1/4 tsp garlic powder

    1/4 cup water

    32-33mm collagen casings (OPT)

    Combine all above ingredients with the water. Stir until the MTQ is dissolved. Add the seasoned liquid to the meat and mix well to incorporate. Roll into a fatty style log or stuff into casing. Fridg the log overnight.

    OPT Smoker

    Pre heat smoker to 180-200* apply smoke (IF NO USE OF LIQUID SMOKE) for 1.5 hours of the 4 hours or until you have an IT of 160.

    Do not imerse in cold water, Let cool at room temp.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  15. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    hey, venture - total agreement about the fat - it's just that in this case, i wanted venison-only with no outside meat added, so the oatmeal made a good alternative.

    casino, thanks for the info - i think i'll definitely be giving that a try.

    give it a go, guys - i'm pretty sure you will like it!
  16. your welcome, I think it's cool your trying to make a sausage with easy to obtain items please let me know how the butter milk worked if you try it

    I don't think it would be much fat, but I would think the Buttermilk would have to add a little bit of fat to the mix
  17. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Buttermilk will not add fat. The lactic acid in the BM will give you the zingy taste.

    When using liquid BM, dont add water. Fermento is cultured whey protein and powder skim milk the same as powdered BM which you can buy in just about any store in the baking area.

     See Todd or Allied Kenco for sawdust..........
  18. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    thanks, nepas!
  19. My to do list just go one item longer.
  20. jrod62

    jrod62 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Looks good.. will have to try making some .

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