Project pancetta has come to its savory and delicious conclusion. Here’s a final shot:
I think a trip to Eastern Market for some nice, plump sea scallops is in order. Wrap them up in pancetta, roast quickly, and serve with a spicy plum or peach chutney…yum.
Ah, but with room in the drying closet comes room for a new project. With all of this bacon-y goodness and soon to be finished soppressata, I thought something a little bit leaner might be in order. I once bought peperone from a small Italian market that made it on-site and was pleasantly suprised by two things: It was much less fatty than the average slice you might see on pizza and also much more heavily spiced.
Pepperoni is the Americanized spelling of peperoni, the plural of the Italian word peperone which means “pepper.” Makes sense then, that this would be a peppery sausage that bites back a little bit when you taste it. So let’s go for it:
- 5 lbs. of lean beef, cut into small cubes. A round or chuck roast with the sinew and fat trimmed away is perfect.
- 3 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. DQ curing salt #2 / Insta-cure #2 (www.butcher-packer.com)
- 1/4 cup Bactoferm F-RM-52
- 1/4 cup distilled water
- 3 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1 tsp. ground fennel
- 4 tbsp. dextrose
- 3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 2 tbsp. paprika
- 2 tbsp. dry red wine
- 10 ft. sausage casings
Soak the sausage casings in warm water for at least a half hour.
Combine the meat with the kosher salt and DQ curing salt #2 and grind through a small die into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Dissolve the Bactoferm starter in the distilled water and add it, along with the rest of the ingredients, to the ground meat. Mix thoroughly to combine everything. At this point, I let the meat rest for a few hours in the refrigerator. Prior to stuffing, I also fried a small patty of the ground meat to check the seasoning.
Grease a sausage stuffer (I use the attachment for the Kitchenaid) with a small amount of shortening. Find the opening in the soaked casing and run cool water down the length of the casing several times to remove any kinks, and then shimmy it onto the stuffer. Tie a knot at the end. Have a sterilized pin at the ready to remove any air pockets that form as you form the peperone. Stuff the seasoned meat into the casing using consistent speed and gentle, even pressure.
Once you have completed stuffing a rope of peperone, twist it into 10 in. links alternating directions, and then tie each link off with butchers twine. Prick the peperone all over to remove any remaining air pockets and facilitate drying. Weigh them and take note of the weight.
Hang the links at room temperature for 12 hours and then move to a cool, dark, humid place to dry completely. Ideal conditions are about 60 degrees and 60-70% humidity. The peperone is ready when it feels firm all the way through and has lost 1/3rd of its weight. Here it is hanging out in the drying closet on the left, with the soppressata (which is almost ready!!) on the right.
Depending on the thickness and size of the links, drying can take anywhere from one to three weeks. Then, well…mangia!
Update: Here’s what the finished peperone looked like. Had a nice little kick to it, but nothing too palate-numbing. Really worth the wait!
Ciao for now,