Once upon a time there was a mama bear whose baby bears loved pepperoni. The littlest one in particular would not eat meat or legumes or vegetables and that mama bear had a hard time keeping enough iron in him. One thing he would eat, though, was pepperoni so the mama bear figured she would make her own pepperoni from grass fed beef for her lethargic little baby bear.
That mama bear went out in the forest to search high and low until she found some humanely raised, grass fed beef from Cascade Beef that would do nicely. Then she traveled all the way up to Arlington and bought some sausage casing. She came home and ground 5 pounds of that grass fed meat up in her meat grinder and lovingly mixed in seasonings. Then she fried off a little taster so that all the bears could try.
Mama bear tried the pepperoni and thought “that should do.” Papa bear took one bite and said “MMM tastes like pepperoni, but it needs more kick.” The oldest baby bear tried it and cried “Yum! I want some more!” but the littlest baby bear said “That’s not pepperoni. I don’t want that.”
The mama bear forged ahead anyway and stuffed those pepperoni. Then she took them down to the utility room and hung them up on the washline next to the pork jowels to cure. All night she dreamed about her littlest baby bear eating the pepperoni she had made for him so that he could get big and strong.
But while the bears slept, a mean wolf came around. He peeked in all the beds and saw that the bears were fast asleep so he crept down the stairs, sniffing for pepperoni all the while. He pushed the grain bins over the to dryer and climbed up on them first, then the dryer next and he ate almost all the pepperoni that Mama bear had worked so hard until 2 in the morning to stuff. He also made sure that any pepperoni links he couldn’t finish had his teeth marks in them so that the bears wouldn’t have to share them with him.
And now, dear readers, it’s time for the moral of the story.
ALWAYS BE SURE THE UTILITY ROOM DOOR LATCHES. The End.
But here is the cool part I realized as a result of all this: you don’t need to stuff and cure pepperoni to make it. In fact if you have a wiley dog I recommend NOT doing that. This pepperoni tasted like pepperoni without the obligatory curing time (which by the way is what requires you use nitrates which are beyond creepy.)
You can simply mix ground beef or pork with seasonings then fry it loose like Italian sausage. It works great on pizza or with pasta that way and requires no special equipment or ingredients. In fact I think you should rush out and try this pronto because if you eat pepperoni you are going to love this. You can adjust the spiciness up (if you have a papa bear) or down (for baby bears.)
Pepperoni Sausage- Adapted from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
5 pounds lean, grass fed beef, ground
3 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup dry red wine
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper (Mama Bear left this out completely)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 tablespoons organic sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
Combine all ingredients well then freeze as is or fry and freeze until needed for spaghetti, pizza or pasta salads. Another thing you could do is adapt these ingredients and make pepperoni beef jerky with it by slicing the meat as thinly as possible, marinating in this spice mix overnight and then drying on low in an oven or dehydrator until the meat is no longer moist.