Author Topic: Pepperoni Frustration  (Read 18823 times)

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Offline ryansm

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Pepperoni Frustration
« on: August 02, 2012, 10:22:26 AM »
After a month or so of endless research, study, and making of pizza, I consider myself a fairly competent beginner, but the weakest link is the pepperoni!

Locally, I have access to Hormel, Margherita, Bridgford (I think), and store brands. I've tried the Hormel slices and the Margherita slices and stick, and they were incredibly bland to my palate. I think I've seen Bridgford sticks locally, but am hesitant to try them due to a mediocre taste test review by Cook's Illustrated and the fact that I hate slicing pepperoni. Are there any Bridgford proponents here? Is it worth it?

Otherwise, does anyone have any suggestions? I've heard that Hormel's food service pepperoni is miles ahead of what is sold retail...is that true? And if so, does anyone know of sources for individual purchase?

So far, none of the three varieties I've tried come even close to the pepperoni used at chains such as Pizza Hut and Papa John's. Obviously they aren't using expensive meats, so what can I do!?


Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2012, 10:48:01 AM »
If you want pepperoni with flavor that blows all others away, try this:

http://www.vtsmokeandcure.com/Smoked-Pepperoni.html

Pizza is not bread.

Offline JD

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2012, 11:05:05 AM »
You must have a very sophisticated pepperoni pallet!

I made a pepperoni pizza last night using regular ole' pre-sliced Hormel (full fat, non of the low fat stuff) pepperoni, and the flavor was great.

You're not pre-cooking the pepperoni are you? The oils should release right onto the pizza and there should be very obvious pepperoni taste.
Josh

Offline ryansm

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2012, 11:16:23 AM »
TXCraig1: Thanks for the recommendation, sounds like an interesting product.

motofrk: I do admit that I'm quite picky about charcuterie/cured meats. I don't precook the pepperoni and always use full fat versions. The flavor just wasn't there for me, it was nothing compared to, say, a Papa John's pizza. Compared to that, they have all been weak and flaccid in flavor, more of a texture than a taste, really. All the other tasters have agreed on multiple times.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2012, 11:36:55 AM »
ryansm,

I had the Vermont Smoked Pepperoni at Craig's place this past weekend and it blew me away. The slices shrink and cup and hold the released fats which, in turn, capture and retain the flavors of the pepperoni. You can see a photo of what the pepperoni looks like on a pizza at Reply 7 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,20256.msg199041.html#msg199041. The pepperoni is mouthwateringly delicious, with a lot of spice.

For store bought pepperoni slices, I have been using the Armour brand, by Armour-Eckrich Meats. It does not oil off as much as the supermarket Hormel pepperoni. I have found it in Wal-Marts and, more recently, also in a local unit of Safeway. Armour-Eckrich also makes the Margherita brand of peppeoni. The ingredients lists for the Armour and Margherita pepperonis are identical.

When I did my clone work on the Papa John's dough and pizzas, PJ was using a Doskocil pepperoni product (see Reply 4 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg58199/topicseen.html#msg58199). Doskocil is a unit of Tyson Foods (foodservice). It looks like Tyson has changed its formulation for their pepperoni products. This may all be moot since there are no retail sources for the Doskocil products. However, Tyson sells a retail pepperoni product under the Wilson name (http://www.hannaford.com/product/Wilson-Pepperoni/712928.uts). I have used that product before and liked it a lot. But it is not sold in any of the stores near me. I found it outside of Texas. FYI, the ingredients list for the Wilson product is the same as many of the Doskocil/Tyson pepperoni products shown at their website at http://www.tysonfoodservice.com/Site%20Search%20Results.aspx?q=pepperoni.

Another possibility is the Ezzo pepperoni, which is available at PennMac at http://www.pennmac.com/page/27/pizza-baking-supplies. I haven't tried that brand but it is popular among pizza operators who do not try to cut costs on the pepperoni. Many of our members have also found the Ezzo products to be very good.

Based on what I now know, my first choice would be the Vermont Smoked Pepperoni. However, it is not an inexpensive product, particularly after shipping costs are taken into account.

Peter

Offline ryansm

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2012, 11:59:29 AM »
Peter,

Thank you for your detailed response! The Vermont pepperoni does look amazing, but at over $15/pound before shipping, it's more than I can afford. The Ezzo brand seems to be well liked, and is much more affordable (even cheaper per pound than Hormel!), so I may splurge on the shipping costs to try that out.

I've never seen any Armour pepperoni where I live, which is a small town with limited grocery options. I'll keep an eye out for it, though.

Thank you for your very thorough research of the Papa John's pepperoni manufacturers! It seems that Wilson brand is mainly sold in the New England area, and I recall seeing it there when I lived there. I'll be making a trip there soon, so I'll pick some up if I see it.

Ryan

Offline ryansm

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2012, 12:03:19 PM »
I'm now curious how cooking technique is affecting the taste. It seems that deck ovens and certainly impingement ovens deliver much more heat to the pepperoni, giving it more opportunity to caramelize, and thus, intensify its flavor. Does anyone have any experience with this?

Ryan

Offline weemis

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2012, 12:17:44 PM »
bridgeford all the way! yes, it sucks to slice, but it's a great readily available pepperoni. haven't tried the vt. smoked, but maybe i should!
Nick Gore - just a dough eyed wanderer

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2012, 12:25:54 PM »
I'm now curious how cooking technique is affecting the taste. It seems that deck ovens and certainly impingement ovens deliver much more heat to the pepperoni, giving it more opportunity to caramelize, and thus, intensify its flavor. Does anyone have any experience with this?

Ryan

I think there is probably some truth to that. I use Hormel pepperoni frequently in my WFO, and I'm perfectly happy with it.

Are you putting the pepperoni under the cheese or on top?
Pizza is not bread.

Offline ryansm

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2012, 12:40:21 PM »
weemis: I'll pick up some Bridgford next time I'm out, especially seeing as how it's the only one of the 3 brands available to me locally.

Craig: I always put the pepperoni on top, but always end up with limp, flabby pepperoni. Even frozen pizzas I cook get better cooking on the pepperoni. I know from cooking meat how incredibly important the degree of sear/caramelization is to the finished product's flavor, so I think I should investigate this more. I have a few doughs going now, so I think I'll try some experiments with cooking rack position. I always cook on the lowest rack because that gives me the best crust, but I think I'll experiment with moving it up higher, either for the entire bake or to finish.


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2012, 12:51:42 PM »
As can be seen from a typical pizza menu at Buddy's, the famous pizzeria for the Detroit style pizza, at http://www.buddyspizza.com/documents/Carryout105.pdf, the pepperoni is placed below the cheese in order to "enhance flavor and prevent charring". In its early days, Buddy's used deck ovens to bake its pizzas, but it eventually went to using conveyor ovens.

Peter

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2012, 01:12:27 PM »
Both Ezzo and Vermont Smoke and Cure were mentioned favorably in this 2011 New York Times article on pepperoni: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/dining/02pepperoni.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1.

Peter

Offline ryansm

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2012, 01:22:57 PM »
I've never liked pepperoni underneath cheese, I far prefer a nicely caramelized pepperoni, like that pictured in the NYT link you provided. I think figuring out a way to get some more heat and crisp to my pepperoni will help me get the flavor I'm looking for. A cupping pepperoni, like the Ezzo you suggested, seems like a good trick for getting crisp pepperoni in a weak oven.

parallei

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2012, 01:27:06 PM »
« Last Edit: August 02, 2012, 01:35:23 PM by parallei »

Offline JD

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2012, 01:38:48 PM »
I can't imagine any big name (chain) style pizza place would use anything other than the cheap stuff you find off the shelves at a supermarket. I'm a firm believer of K.I.S.S. so I wouldn't give up on Hormel etc...

I cooked mine on a gas grill using a pizza stone, at about 650*. Not much caramelization but I did get the cupping effect and a lot of oils. I also used whole milk mozzarella which I think the two oils combine and produce a really well flavored pepperoni pizza.... almost like how adding salt to foods brings out their natural flavors.

 

Josh

Offline Everlast

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2012, 04:03:12 PM »
If Applegate Farms is available in your area, they make a delicious pepperoni. There's a restaurant in Los Alamos, CA call Flatbread (my favorite pizza place in Santa Barbara wine country) that uses this very brand on their wood-fired pizzas. It comes pre-sliced and the slices are larger and are nitrate-free. My wife insists that the lack of nitrates makes the pepperoni taste better. I'm not sure that I notice the difference, but the pepperoni is very high quality. Here's a shot of a pizza with it (12").

Offline deb415611

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2012, 04:49:16 PM »
If you can ever splurge the Vermont Cure & Smoke is the way to go

It will cup in a regular home oven


Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2012, 04:55:48 PM »
I just bought a 7oz stick of Vermont smoke and cure at Central Markup for $7.49.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2012, 05:09:34 PM »
I just bought a 7oz stick of Vermont smoke and cure at Central Markup for $7.49.

You're lucky. I have not been able to find it at Central Market for a couple week now.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Pepperoni Frustration
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2012, 05:52:22 PM »
They had a pile, I better go back and get a couple more.


 

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