Sweet Italian Sausage




Back when we butchered our boar, we had 60lbs of wonderfulness that we were able to separate into thirds and made 20lbs each of chorizo, breakfast sausage, and Sweet Italian sausage. I made spaghetti with the Italian spiced links the other day. The fennel, parsley, and sugar make for really nicely spiced pork that can be used in just about any Italian dish that calls for sausage.

This recipe, again, came from Hunter Angler Gardner Cook. I like how their recipe goes into the history of it; they claim that the Sweet Italian recipe was popularized in the states by WWII GIs returning from Italy who had gotten a taste of what real Italian sausage should be. I paired it with my Italian red sauce made from our tomatoes. When (unfortunately) not in Rome, you can still (try to) do as the Romans, I guess.

Ingredients (we quadrupled this recipe):

4 lbs ground boar
1 lb fatback
2 T kosher salt
3 T sugar
2 T fennel seeds
1 t cracked black pepper
1/4 t nutmeg
1 t dried oregano
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c white wine, chilled
Hog casings

Instructions (used almost verbatim from Hank Shaw on Hunter Angler Gardner Cook, since he knows what he’s doing):

First, get out about 15 to 20 feet of hog casings and soak them in warm water. Cut the meat and fat into chunks you can fit into your meat grinder. Mix together the salt, sugar, half the fennel seeds, black pepper, nutmeg, and oregano, then mix this with the meat and fat until every piece has a little on it. Put in the freezer until the meat and fat are between 30°F and 40°F. Put your grinder parts (auger, dies, blades, etc) in the freezer, too, and put a bowl in the fridge.

Grind half of the mixture through the coarse die on your grinder, and half through the fine die. This creates a more interesting texture. If your meat mixture is still at 35°F or colder, you can go right to binding. If it has heated up, you need to chill everything back down. Use this time to clean up the grinder.

Once the meat is cold, put it in a large bin or bowl and add the remaining fennel seeds, white wine and parsley. Mix well with your (very clean) hands for 2 to 3 minutes — a good indicator of temperature is that your hands should ache with cold when you do this. You want to to mix until the meat binds to itself. You can also do this in a stand mixer set on its lowest setting, but you don’t get as good a bind as you do when you do this by hand.

You now have Italian sausage. You can leave it loose, form it into patties, or link it. Put the loose sausage into a stuffer and thread a casing onto it. Stuffing sausage is easier with two people, one to fill the links, the other to coil. Stuff the links well but not super-tight, as you will not be able to tie them off later if they are too full. Don’t worry about air pockets yet. Stuff the whole casing, leaving lots of room on either end to tie them off; leave at least three inches of unstuffed casing on either end of the coil.

Hang your links on a wooden drying rack for at least an hour, or up to overnight if you can hang them in a place that doesn’t get any warmer than 40°F or so. This lets the links cure a little, filling their casings and developing flavor. Once you’ve taken the links off the hanger, they can be refrigerated for up to 3 or 4 days, or frozen for up to a year.

You can grill the links, or cut them up, saute them with peppers, garlic, and onions, throw some red sauce in the skillet, and serve over spaghetti, like I did.

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