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BRIAN IN THE KITCHEN  brought to you by Stittsworth Meats

October 5 2012

Homemade Pepperoni

    7 pounds pre-frozen or certified pork butt, cubed, fat included
    3 pounds lean beef chuck, round or shank, cubed
    5 Tablespoons salt
    1 Tablespoon sugar
    2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper
    3 Tablespoons sweet paprika
    1 Tablespoons crushed anise seed
    1 teaspoon garlic, very finely minced
    1 cup dry red wine
    1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid
    1 teaspoon saltpeter
    6 feet small (1/2-inch diameter) hog casings

Sausage Mix:
Grind the pork and beef through the coarse disk separately. Mix the meats together with the salt, sugar, cayenne, pepper, paprika, anise seed, garlic, red wine, ascorbic acid, and saltpeter. Spread the mixture out in a large pan, cover loosely with waxed paper, and cure in the refrigerator for twenty-four hours.

Prepare the casings (see instructions below). Stuff the sausage into the casings and twist off into then-inch links. Using cotton twine, tie two separate knots between every other link, and one knot at the beginning and another at the end of the stuffed casing. Cut between the double knots. This results in pairs of ten-inch links. The pepperoni are hung by a string tied to the center of each pair. Hang the pepperoni to dry for six to eight weeks. Once dried, the pepperoni will keep, wrapped, in the refrigerator for several months.

Preparing the Casing:
Snip off about four feet of casing. (Better too much than too little because any extra can be repacked in salt and used later.) Rinse the casing under cool running water to remove any salt clinging to it. Place it in a bowl of cool water and let it soak for about half an hour. While you're waiting for the casing to soak, you can begin preparing the meat as detailed above. After soaking, rinse the casing under cool running water. Slip one end of the casing over the faucet nozzle. Hold the casing firmly on the nozzle, and then turn on the cold water, gently at first, and then more forcefully. This procedure will flush out any salt in the casing and pinpoint any breaks. Should you find a break, simply snip out a small section of the casing. Place the casing in a bowl of water and add a splash of white vinegar. A tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water is sufficient. The vinegar softens the casing a bit more and makes it more transparent, which in turn makes your sausage more pleasing to the eye. Leave the casing in the water/vinegar solution until you are ready to use it. Rinse it well and drain before stuffing.

Yield: 10 pounds