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Pepperoni: As American as Pizza Pie
Peruse our guide to pepperoni for a satisfying slice of insight on an edible icon.
If you ask for pepperoni in Naples, you might be handed a bushel of bell peppers. Though the name may sound Italian, America’s second-most-popular pizza topping (after cheese) caught on closer to home. “Peperoni” simply refers to the vegetable, the second p having snuck into the blend of pork, beef, and spices sometime in the early 20th century when Italian-American butchers began adapting cured salamis such as soppressata and salsiccia into a softer, smokier sausage. The process for making pepperoni is similar to that of any dry salami. First, a chef grinds the meat with spices that often include fennel, pepper, and paprika. He or she then adds enough salt and lactic acid to preserve it at room temperature. After a brief period of fermentation, the sausage spends the next 12–20 days hanging up to dry—pepperoni isn’t actually cooked until it’s popped into the oven atop a blanket of mozzarella.
Although pepperoni is largely confined to the pizza parlor and the sub shop in most of the United States, West Virginia’s state cuisine celebrates the pepperoni roll: an unassuming hunk of bread with a simple pepperoni filling baked inside. Italians who immigrated to work in the coal mines in the early 1900s found the rolls a quick, easy lunch that didn’t need refrigeration or reheating. Miners—and tailgaters—still enjoy them today, and they’re the spicy, slightly greasy lifeblood of several bakeries.
Your Donatos pizza is loaded Edge to Edge with toppings – so it’s consistently delicious, bite after savory bite.