16 September, 2010

How to Turn Really Good Pepperoni into AWESOME Pepperoni

No matter which brand of pepperoni you like best, and no matter how delicious it is, there is something you can do with it that will increase it's awesomeness exponentially.  You need no special skills or experience to do it; you only need a stick of pepperoni (unsliced, none of that  sliced deli stuff or bagged slices) and a paper towel.

Start with a good brand of pepperoni, like Hormel Rosa Grande or Armour's Margherita. You can't get good results if you start with junk.  When you get it home, take the label and plastic wrap (if any) off and wrap the pepperoni stick loosely in a paper towel.  Now, put it on a shelf in the back of your fridge and leave it there for two weeks before you start slicing into it.


Regardless of how high the esteem in which you hold your favorite brand, the fact of the matter is companies just don't age their pepperonis as much as they really should before getting them to the market, and so many of them hit the shelves with a higher moisture content.  Over the years,  consumers have come to accept and even expect this.

Well, the manufacturers, with their tight production schedules and need to turn over product, might not have the time for an extra couple of weeks drying time, but at home we do.  And you'll be amazed by the difference it will make in your pepperoni.  Yes, it will be a little smaller (not that much - remember, the manufacturers considered the curing done before they shipped it)  but it will also be bolder tasting, richer, and a little dryer.  The basic flavor of the pepperoni won't have changed, but it will have more character.

Step by step:

  1. Wrap the pepperoni stick loosely in a paper towel and put it in the back of the fridge
  2. Check on it after the first week (unwrap it and look at it.)  Some red grease may be in the paper towel - don't worry about it, that's what the towel is there fore anyway.  Look for mold on the pepperoni.  There shouldn't be any, but if you find some, wipe it off with a paper towel dampened in vinegar.
  3. At the end of the second week, start slicing off pepperoni to enjoy.  With some of the moisture evaporated out of it, the flavor will have improved.
  4. You can keep the pepperoni out in the general refrigerator population, wrapped in the paper towel, as long as you want, even after you've started slicing it.  It will continue to dry.  If you feel like doing some experimentation, slice off a bit every three or four days until it's all gone to find out just how dry you prefer your pepperoni so you can get it "perfect" next time.
It's easy and delicious, you just have the patience not to OM NOM NOM that pepperoni every time you open the fridge and see it back there on the shelf, biding its time.


MrsBug said...

I do this with Parmesan cheese too. I don't buy the super expensive stuff, just a good domestic brand. Wrap it in parchment paper and let the fridge do the work.

It's interesting how its texture changes as it ages. It's easy to grate when I first buy it, but after about six months (or longer!), it gets really hard and the grating is fine and more "powdery." It's full of deliciousness though!

Alan said...

I never knew that; lesson learned.

Nope. said...

You're nothing short of brilliant, Dave. Hey, let's do an A Dong trip soon!

Andrew said...

Awesome tips right here....
I'm going to be trying these tomorrow. Thanks!

Marc said...

Where are you finding the Rosa Grande locally?
As MrsBug said, I always just wrap my Pecorino or Parmesan is a couple layers of cheese cloth and into the fridge. FYI: Here's two places you might want to check out: http://www.sweetpeacheese.com/ Outstanding Goat Milk and Cheese! and http://www.garlicfarmct.com/ Outstanding produce. Always buy a ten pound bag of garlic for the winter!

Dave said...

Jess - I'm up for a trip to Dong's anytime. Shoot me an email and we'll make plans.

Marc - Check ShopRite for the Rosa Grande pepperoni. It's my second choice to Margherita, but to be honest either of them are as good as the other.

Marc said...

Okay, now I'm a bit scared. Margherita ANYTHING has been a bit of a disappointment.Have you tried Ezzo?

Anonymous said...

I like to brown the pepperoni after slicing - it takes out all of the moisture and some of the grease, leaving it with a much richer taste and a crispy texture.

SIZE SIX said...

Do you think this would work as well with a salami?

Dave said...

SIZE SIX - I don't see why it wouldn't - I use it with commercial sopressata and capicola.