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~ Raise Your Hands in Praise for all Pepperoni Pizza ~

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8e8a675970bPepperoni.  It's easy to assume it's 100% Italian, but it's as American as apple pie.  Food writer and historian John Mariani writes, "like jazz and baseball, pepperoni is purely an Italian-American creation, like chicken parmesan."   While it's exact origin is unknown, long story short, it's our spicy version of their salami (salame), and, no surprise to anyone, thinly-sliced or finely-diced, pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in every pizzeria across the United States. That said, it's wonderful eaten in and on all sorts of other things too.  It's made from cured pork and beef (in a ratio of approximately 70% lean to 30% fat) and seasoned liberally with paprika (to give it is signature red color), as well as sugar, garlic and other aromatic spices to amp the flavor. 
Pepperoni.jpgAfter air-drying and curing, the finished product is medium-grained, slightly-smokey, a bit chewy, and, in terms of dried sausages, relatively soft, with edges that tend to curl up (and even char a bit) in the heat of the pizza oven. Referred to as "cupping", the curled-up crispy edges provide a spot for the salty, tangy, spicy sausage juices to pool up in (rather than spread out across the surface of the cheesy pizza).
IMG_5557Whole pepperoni sticks or packaged slices can be purchased in every large grocery store and small mini-markets.  It's also available sliced to suit your needs at all deli-counters, specialty meat shops, butcher shops and delicatessens.  Since it's a cured sausage, technically it doesn't require refrigeration and can be frozen up to six months too.  That said, I do keep mine stored in the deli-drawer of my refrigerator and do not freeze it.  A quick Google search will reveal too many brands to mention by name, but, for my purposes, with respect to what is available to me, my favorite is Boar's Head sliced and stick pepperoni, along with Hormel's packages of sliced mini-pepperoni.
6a0120a8551282970b0240a4cb40bb200bThe term "pepperoni" was borrowed from the Italian word "peperoni" (the plural of peperone), which is the Italian word for "a large pepper", referring to a bell pepper.  Read on:
Italian immigration into the USA increased dramatically in the early 20th Century and it was these immigrants who began combining their traditions with our American ingredients.  The first reference to pepperoni in print appears in 1919 (around the approximate time when mom-and-pop Italian butcher shops and pizza parlors began popping up in lower Manhattan. Then, during the World War I, the word was being used by Italian-American soldiers as a synonym for sausage -- after the war, it began to appear as a pizza topping in NYC pizzerias.
Since the 1960s, there's no looking back -- pepperoni is imbedded in our culture and here it will stay.  You say "pizza topping" and most Americans will answer "pepperoni".  Americans consume over 250 million pounds of this slaty, spicy, tangy sausage on 35% of all pizza nationally.  Sliced or diced, besides pizza it can be used in lots of specialty dishes, as well as in casseroles, on cold- or hot-sandwiches pasta salads, charcuterie boards, and unique bread products.
6a0120a8551282970b022ad37710b6200c"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)


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