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I bought a large pork shoulder, broke it down into manageable pieces (it's just myself and my wife), and with one piece I decided to make pepperoni. I followed what seemed to be a pretty standard recipe:

  1. Grind
  2. Add spices (fennel, red pepper, garlic) and tender quick
  3. Dry in fridge
  4. Slow-roast to 160°F

If I close my eyes, it tastes like pepperoni, but it looks nothing like it. Much more red--almost purplish red, but by no means the greasy orange slice I'd expect on a pizza. I guess it could do fine in a stromboli, but I'd like to know what I did wrong, or what I'd need to do to get what I was looking for.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

From Wikipedia:

Sodium nitrite, used as a curing agent, is what gives pepperoni the pink part of its distinct orange-pink color, while paprika or other capsicum provides the orange part.

It cites a food science blog article as the source.

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Yes, it's added to help kill bacteria during the curing process. It's the same stuff that makes pastrami red. – ElendilTheTall Mar 27 '11 at 10:39
Fair enough, however, as noted, I did use tender quick (you might be aware that this contains sodium nitrite). The cure did cause the meat to turn red, just not the orange color I was expecting. – Ray Mar 27 '11 at 13:56
@Ray: Well, before I posted that article, my first thought was "Paprika?" - which you'll note from what was written causes the orange colour. – Orbling Mar 27 '11 at 15:36

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