Homemade Beef Pepperoni Style Summer Sausage Recipe- Paleo, Nitrate Free

I've been doing a lot of reading lately of various recipes from around the world, and came across quite a few that called for sausage. I'd love to be able to make my own healthy sausage- (all the bought sausage locally contains msg as well as other ingredients I'd like to avoid), and not breakfast sausage, but the standard sausage in a sausage shape and texture.
However, as I was looking for sausage recipes, such as homemade salami, I realized I had a few issues standing in my way.
-I didn't know where I could get sausage casings.
-I didn't know where I could get curing salt.
-I don't have the facilities to hang my sausage to dry for weeks at the right temperature, even if I solved the other two issues.

And so, some people suggested that I look into summer sausage recipes- they aren't typically aged, but can be dried, and I saw quite a few summer sausage recipes made in the oven- and some were even made without any sausage casings.
I decided to try to make mine without curing salt, which essentially is nitrates and salt- I'm not actually opposed to nitrates because of what I read about on Chris Kresser's site- my reason for skipping them is purely a question of logistics and availability.

For my first summer sausage, I decided to go with pepperoni style, since my kids had asked me to make pizza (gluten free and dairy free) and I thought homemade pepperoni would be the perfect way to add protein to the meal. My boys absolutely loved it. I really enjoyed it as well, but have ideas how to make it even better next time.

My recipe was a mash up of a bunch of different recipes and techniques I found on the web so I can't credit one specific place for it. I don't know how long this will stay fresh- I used half the recipe, two of the sausages, for one meal, and froze the other two for future use.

Though there's no casing on this, because of how it dries it sort of feels like it does have a casing.

I didn't grind my seeds, but next time I make this I will, since the seeds got in the way when I was slicing it, and made it less aesthetic. Additionally, I was rushed to finish this in time for my pizza so I didn't marinate it first- next time I will marinate it for 12-24 hours before cooking, so that it will taste even better.

Homemade Beef Pepperoni Style Summer Sausage Recipe- Paleo, Nitrate Free

2 lbs ground beef
2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional but adds a lot- see note on paprika)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons honey, sugar, or other sweetener
1 teaspoon black pepper (or foraged pink peppercorns)
2 teaspoon fennel seeds (you can use wild fennel seeds for this)
2 teaspoons mustard seeds (you can use wild mustard seeds for this)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-2 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika (if not using liquid smoke, ideally use smoked paprika and more of it, to add the smokey taste)
1-2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes (optional- I left these out because I wanted my kids to eat it)

1. Grind up all your seeds, either in a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle.

2. Mix up all the ingredients together, and let marinate in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. You can skip this step but the flavor won't be as evenly distributed.

3. Divide the meat into 4 even parts, and make them each into a log. It's easiest to do this by putting each part into plastic wrap and then spreading it along with your fingers until it's even and reaches the length of the plastic. When finished, unroll the plastic wrap and roll the log onto a lined baking tray, and repeat with the other 3, making sure that each log is not touching the next one.

4. Bake at 225 for 4-5 hours on your lined baking tray. You want this to dry out and not sit in its own drippings, so after 20 minutes see if drippings have pooled, and if they have, pour them off (you can use this to make gravies or as a base for soups or stews or to cook rice in) so the sausage is sitting on a dry tray. After 20 more minutes check again, and collect any more drippings. Repeat this as long as there are still drippings. When I did it, after pouring off drippings twice there weren't any more.

5. When the sausages are completely dry, remove from the oven and let cool. I did it for 4 hours, but a little longer is also fine.

6. Slice into thin slices with a sharp, serrated knife, before using.

7. Keep the pepperoni unsliced until you use it.

8. If you dry out the pepperoni enough, it should last a decent while in the fridge. If it's more moist, it will need to be frozen if you want it to last a while.

9. Use as you would any pepperoni recipe, such as on pizzas, in quesadillas, on sandwiches, in pasta salads, etc... See here for more ideas. Or even just snack on them plain.

Here's our pepperoni pizza made on a quinoa pizza crust and with a dairy free zucchini based cheese sauce (like this, but thickened with tapioca starch) and tomato sauce that I'd made from fresh tomatoes. It was delicious and a hit with the family. If you want to make your pizza totally paleo, use a paleo pizza crust like these.

My kids' opinion?

Lee tells me "This is delicious- even better than store bought pepperoni!"
Ike roared it was the "BEST THING EVER!"
Then Lee follows up with a "Usually I'm exaggerating, but this time I'm not- it really is delicious!"

Now that I got this one down pat, I look forward to experimenting with making other flavors of summer sausage- next up, salami style.

What is your favorite way to eat pepperoni? Ever make it from scratch or any other sausage from scratch? Do you use casings and hang to dry or not?
Does this look like a recipe you'd try?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Absolutely trying this as soon as I get all the seeds, I only lack the fennel. I avoid nitrites, curing salt, casings and would not want to hang the sausage. This is the perfect recipe for us. Thanks for sharing this, I'm excited to try it.

  2. Chris does not differentiate between nitrites and nitrosamones... Which is in fact the entire difference between naturally sourced nitrites and those found in processed meats. What are this guy's credentials? His ignorance is astounding...

    1. Sorry, autocorrect... Nitrosamines.

  3. Lee's comment is so cute and hilarious!

  4. I just made up this recipe. But instead on making logs and baking them, I fried them up as burgers. I know have pepperoni flavored burgers. AWESOME! -Penniless Dad

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