Pepperoni is an all-American creation inspired by Italian spices and traditional meat curing practices. It’s most popular for its heavy association with another dominant American dish, pizza. It can be found in every grocery store and a lot of convenience stores across the country.
Halal pepperoni specifically refers to non-pork-based pepperoni. That can mean beef, turkey, lamb, or chicken that has gone through the halal pepperoni process. There’s a bit more to it but we’ll get to that later.
Halal Pepperoni History
The melting pot of the world creates cultural clashes that create beautiful unique opportunities. Pepperoni’s wide use has caused it to be adopted for consumption by every culture represented in America. However, some religious practices require special preparation of certain meats and food for them to be able to partake without contradicting their religious practices. For Judaism, it’s called kosher. For Muslims, it’s known as halal.
Pepperoni is a uniquely American sausage that is air-dried and smoked to the perfect soft texture with an Italian mix of spices. In the early 20th century during the migration of the first wave of Italian meat shops and pizzerias to settle in New York City, pepperoni was born.
Italian butchers adapted their salami recipes to a new environment. With an Americanized mix of access to a wide variety of cultural spices, they stuffed finely minced meat mixed with pepper, paprika, garlic, sugar, red wine, and other spices into salami casing to be cultured. The result was the red spicy pepperoni salami found as a staple topping in every pizzeria.
Where Pepperoni Got Its’ Name
If you were to ask for halal pepperoni in Italy, you’d be given a large bell pepper. Italian immigrants to America gave the salami recipe its name. They used a special blend of peppers that led them to call it pepperoni.
What is Halal?
Not all pepperoni is halal. Pork is commonly used as pepperoni base meat. If you’re looking for halal, make sure the pepperoni you pick up is made with 100% beef, turkey, chicken, or lamb. For the more discerning practitioners, you’ll need to find a Muslim butcher who follows the process to make sure the kill is humane and blessed. Halal pepperoni history is a short recent story. It takes a little effort to get your pepperoni halal.
Factory farms that produce pepperoni may work with multiple sources of meat and operate for maximum output. That means that even if you buy the beef pepperoni, the meat may have been prepared around pork and in a manner that is not fit for halal. It is not uncommon for meats to mix in a factory line. This has created the need for smaller, more personal butchers to fill in the needs of their communities. You may need to search for a source of halal meat rather than store-bought brands.
Halal Pepperoni Process
The process to make pepperoni is easy enough that anybody can try their hand at making it. However, it will take trial and error to work out what mix of spices, smoking time, or air drying time is the best.
You’ll need a few different things to get started.
Here’s a general list of supplies to gather:
- Cutting Knife
- Cutting board or surface
- Meat grinder
- Curing storage container
- Mixing bowls
- Salami casing
After you make sure you are properly equipped, it’s time to check the grocery list:
- Your meat choice(beef, turkey, chicken, or mutton)
- Mustard Seeds
- Garlic Salt
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Quick Cure
This recipe is basic so that you can adjust it accordingly. Most of the instructions will be around meat preparation. Any time the spice mixture is referred to, remember that you can change this mix to experiment with your own recipes.
Preparing the Halal Meat
Step one is to get the meat into the right form with your spices mixed into it. This is a lot easier with a meat grinder. Here are the steps to get the meat ready to use:
Step 1: Cut your chosen meat into small cubes. Don’t trim the fat.
Step 2: Place the meat cubes into a coverable container like a roasting tin.
Step 3: Put the container in your freezer for about an hour.
Step 4: While you wait, measure out your spices and blend them as evenly as possible. Using a fork can help to break up clumps easier.
Step 5: Once the meat is firm and close to frozen, take it out.
Step 6: Feed the meat cubes through your grinder.
Step 7: Pour the curing spice mixture into the ground meat.
Step 8: Massage the spice into the meat thoroughly.
Step 9: Close the meat securely in your curing container and seal it off with saran wrap.
Step 10: Put the sealed container in your refrigerator for 24 hours.
The next day we’re ready to put the meat into the casings. You’ll want a funnel or a stuffing gun. Prepare the casings by soaking them in water to remove the brine. Now, you’re ready to stuff the sausages!
Step 1: If you have a stuffer, fill it with the ground meat. If not, skip to Step 2.
Step 2: Attach the ‘A’ section of the casing to the end of your stuffing gun or funnel and feed about ¾ of it onto the nozzle.
Step 3: Tie off the end.
Step 4: Poke a hole in the end for air.
Step 5: Slowly squeeze the gun’s trigger to fill the casing even and tightly. If you are using a funnel, push the meat through the funnel into the casing. Take care not to be too forceful.
Step 6: Twist the casing every 12 to 18 inches to create sausage links.
Step 7: Detach the links to prepare for curing or cooking.
You may even want to taste test your product. Just take one of the links and cook it up however you want to see how well you’ve done.
Now that we have most of the work taken care of, it’s time to decide how we want to further cure it. There’s a couple of options available and both offer a different flavor.
Traditional Halal Meat Curing
This is the most common way to cure pepperoni. Just take the links and hang them up at a temperature between 65-71 degrees Fahrenheit for 36 hours. Then place the cured meat in a cool container with space to hang at about 38 degrees Fahrenheit for twenty days or more.
After that, it’s ready to slice up and use at the deli.
Smoking Halal Pepperoni
If you have a decent smoker, it makes sense that you want to use it. Fill that bad boy with hardwood chunks, charcoal, and wood chips. Hang the sausage link in the smoking pit. Give it about five hours or until the internal temperature is over 170 degrees.
This method is quicker and leads to meat ready to cook now but has a more sausage-like consistency than traditionally cured pepperoni. The key to the pepperoni lies in aged curing. You might consider combining a longer aging period before smoking.
How to Make It Halal
If you want to make your pepperoni halal, only use beef that you have obtained from a source that provides halal meats. You can take the harder route of finding a direct meat source like a Muslim butchery that performs the halal pepperoni process but halal markets can be found in most cities and often ship products as well. It doesn’t have to be a hassle if you take a little time to research the grocers in your neighborhood.
Ways to Use Your Pepperoni In
There are a lot of creative recipes to use your pepperoni in besides pizza and calzones. I like to eat pepperoni slices as a snack. Its taste also lends itself to a lot of delicious dishes. I don’t have the space to list all of them, so I’ll leave you with one of my favorites.
Halal Pepperoni Penne
- ¾ pound sliced halal pepperoni
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 clove minced garlic
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 16 ounces penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Boil penne according to package directions.
- In a large skillet, saute the pepperoni until crisp.
- Drain all but a tablespoon of the grease.
- Add shallot and garlic. Saute until translucent
- Stir in diced tomatoes and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Stir in the cream. Cook 8 minutes or until the cream is reduced.
- Add parsley and remove the skillet from the heat.
- Add drained pasta and toss.
- Garnish with parmesan