Pepperoni Snack Stick

The long-time standing among local heat experts is that the best flavored pepperoni is the one with the most cayenne pepper. I suppose so, if you have been swallowing habanero peppers for most of your adult life, I haven’t, and my stomach walls are as thin as tissue paper. The following recipe produces a mildly-hot pepperoni stick.

4 1/2 lbs beef chuck (2.1 kg)
1/2 lb fresh beef fat (227 g)
2 1/2 tbsp pickling salt (48.7 g)
1 tsp Prague Powder #1 (5.7 g)
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder (4.65 g)
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (3.3 g)
1 1/2 tbsp anise seed, ground (8.1 g)
2 tbsp powdered dextrose (17.4 g)
3 1/4 tbsp paprika (23.4 g)
1/2 cup corn syrup solids (109 g)
1 cup non-fat dry milk (94.6 g)*
1 cup ice cold water (236 ml)
22-24mm prepared sheep casing or 21mm smoked collagen casing

1. Chill beef and fat to 34°F (1°C), grind one time through a 3/16” (5 mm) plate.
2. Combine ground meat with remaining ingredients, mix well until mixture is sticky and batter like.
3. Stuff meat batter into casings, twist into 18” (46 cm) links, refrigerate product overnight to cure.
4. Next day, hang sticks in preheated 130°F (54°C) smoker, vents wide open, hold at this temperature for one hour.
5. Add wood chips, close vents, gradually raise (in half hour increments) smoker temperature to 170°F (77°C).
6. Hold at 170°F (77°C) until snack sticks reach an internal temperature of 152°F (67°C)*.
7. Upon reaching 152°F (67°C), remove sticks, shower with cold water until internal temperature drops to 110°F (43°C).
8. Hang pepperoni snack sticks at room temperature for 1 hour to bloom.
9. Refrigerate up to 7 days or vacuum seal and freeze up to 6 months.

You can skip the shower altogether and allow the jalapeno snack sticks to cool at room temperature for about an hour. This will produce the shriveled appearance symbolic with commercially produced smoked sausage sticks.

Hunters may use lean venison trim in place of the beef chuck to produce pepperoni snack sticks. Use 85% lean venison trim to 15% beef fat.
*You may use soy-protein concentrate in place of non-fat dry milk.

The USDA recommends that the internal temperature of sausage reach at least 160°F (70°C) when checked with a quick-read digital thermometer.

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