But I keep sliced pepperoni around because it's such a versatile, multi-tasking ingredient, since it contributes:
- Oil: Instead of vegetable oil or butter, I sometimes begin my stir-frys and sautés by throwing a few snipped slices of pepperoni on the skillet and wait for that brilliantly orange-red, spice-infused oil to leach out within a minute. I then take the pepperoni out and have vibrantly-flavorful cooking oil to start with.
- Seasoning: for similar reasons to the oil, I will regularly add pepperoni at the end of cooking a dish to do double duty of adding saltiness & spiciness at once. And just like extracting the oil, it doesn't take long for the dish to be boosted with the meat's flavors.
- Texture: pepperoni slices crisps up quickly and wonderfully, and it makes for a delightful change of pace from other crunchy toppings (breadcrumbs, frizzled onions, and heaven forbid-- Bac-O Bits, which I just found out don't even contain any animal products.)
Although I do rotate between a few brands, Fresh & Easy's is one of my regular go-tos. The flavor is great (just salty, spicy & complex enough), and I appreciate its lack of nitrates & unnecessary chemical gnarlyness. I also like its larger-than-norm slices (which I can snip down if I need to), and at 60 calories per 1 oz serving & priced at $3.49 - it's not a bad deal for the wallet or waistline either.