Last weekend, with Serious Eats fresh on the heels of a pepperoni taste test and a pepper jack cheese taste test, myself fresh on the heels of a just-starting-to-fade hangover, and a kitchen stocked with pickled jalapeños and a freshly cracked jar of red chili flakes, I did some quick mental math and came up with an equation that would take care of all these loose variables. It went something like this.
'pepperoni' on Serious Eats
A few months back we put six brands of sliced pepperoni head-to-head in a taste test to find the best ones for snacking and pizza-making. Welcome back to round 2, where we tackle the greasing, curling power of pepperoni sticks.
Last week, I wrote a piece about a pet obsession of mine: What makes pepperoni slices curl? The final conclusion was that it largely has to do with temperature differentials between the top surface heating faster than the bottom, as well as meat flow patterns inside the sausage caused by the stuffing horn being slimmer than the casing. A few hours after the post went live, I got an email from my friend Evros Loukaides, a research student at Cambridge University studying the behavior and applications of thin morphing structures. Apparently, curling pepperoni falls squarely in the line of his work simulating thin morphing structures.
Today's installment of The Pizza Lab presents what is probably the most important work of my career. Nay, my life. It's a story of such unparalleled importance that it makes pressing international issues like comparative baking surfaces and cold fermentation seem trivial in comparison. I'm talking about pepperoni curl. What it is, what makes it happen, and how to maximize it. It's far more fascinating than you may think.
Pepperoni is ah-one-ah-spicy-sausage that ranks as America's preferred pizza topping. And that makes good sense. The spicy, air-dried sausage is an Italian-American creation after all! We're here to help you navigate the packages of sliced grocery store pepperoni.
My uncle had a bumper crop of tomatoes and hot banana peppers this year and decided to send'em all on up to New York from Pennsylvania via my-sister-express. What do you do with a peck of peppers? Why, you pickle'em of course.
Do you like thin wide slices of spicy, salty pork rounds to meld into your pie, or do you prefer the thick, curled, crisp, and chewy slices of 'roni?
Most men, when their wives go out for drinks with a friend after work, might instantly call up their buds and have a bro night — drinkin' beer, shootin' the shit, etc. Me, I saw it as a rare opportunity to get up to something Girl Slice would NEVER approve of in a million years were it a regular night around Casa di Kubs. I call that something TEMPURONI.
We showed you how to make a heart-shaped pizza on Monday. Today, we're going all in, with a heart-shaped pizza topped with heart-shaped pepperoni.
Apparently there's a debate among pro pizzamakers whether pepperoni should crisp up or stay limp. So, Slice'rs: Do you prefer crisped and curled pepperoni or rounds that lie flat? »
Clockwise from top left: Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Domino's, Little Caesars. [Photographs: Robyn Lee] Today has been sort of an unofficial pepperoni day here on Slice, and, with the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday (the biggest pizza-delivery day of the year), I thought I'd draw your attention to a Slice classic that might help you narrow down your ordering options come game day. Our Delivery Pepperoni Pizza Showdown ranks four of the biggest chain pizzas on crust, flavor, and pepperoni distribution. Give it a look-see before you pick up the phone....
The New York Times published a fascinating story about pepperoni yesterday that's a must-read. Starting with the premise that pepperoni is rare in fancy-pants pizzerias (it is, trust me), Julia Moskin then goes on to explain what it is, how it's made, and what its origins are (it's not Italian).
[Photograph: Adam Kuban] Though beloved by many, pepperoni may not be the most novel topping out there. And that's probably an understatement, seeing how it's actually the most-ordered topping in the U.S. according to many surveys that I am too lazy to google at the moment. (Oh, wait ... here you go). So what happens if you want to do something new with it? Aside from switching over to hot soppressata, you could try cutting it differently — and that's exactly what I'm going to show you.... after the jump....
UPDATE (2/11/2011): YES, Papa John's is making the heart-shape pizzas again this year. You know it's from PJ's because the little pepper is hanging out in the box. [Photographs: Robyn Lee] And there it is. Papa John's is once again offering its heart-shaped Valentine's Day pizza. When Slice ordered it online earlier this afternoon it was part of a special: $14.99 for a one-topping, thin-crust heart-shaped pizza and a Cinnapie (prices may vary in your area). Note that the heart-shaped pizza is only available with PJ's thin crust....
But can sausage trap its own greasy goodness, like this? Jon Eick over at the blog So Good has a great rant about pepperoni. Long story short, he don't like it. Here's why: If pizza is high quality, a mere slice of cheese is delicious. If pizza is mediocre, I understand the need to add toppings. But I have news for you pepperoni: you ain't all that and a bag of chips. Pepperoni, while ok, is simply NOT good enough to have earned it's place as the default pizza order of choice on merit alone. Hell no. I believe...