Sweet Italian Sausage

I thought I’d put together a few blog posts on some of our favorite sausages and include the recipes we’re currently using.  Note the temporal adverb “currently”; these recipes are always under development.

Probably the best place to start is Sweet Italian Sausage.  This is the workhorse sausage around here.

Sausage really only needs a few things to be great:  ground meat, salt, and lots of fresh minced garlic. The first two make sausage, the third makes SAUSAGE.

Here’s the recipe we used for the last batch.  We tried many recipes but we found we liked Michael Ruhlman’s from Charcuterie.  Although we’ve departed from his recipe, he still deserves credit for the original.  We usually make ten pound batches, so scale accordingly.

8 pounds ground pork shoulder

2 pounds ground pork back fat (you can get good results from straight ground pork without the extra fat, but Italian sausage is better with more fat)

10 large garlic cloves, minced

6 Tbsp mesquite smoked salt (Kosher salt works too, but we like the smokey taste)

4 Tbsp smoked paprika (regular paprika works, but again, we like the smoke)

4 Tbsp sucanat

4 Tbsp fennel seeds, toasted

4 tsp ground black pepper

1 cup dry red wine, chilled (or 1/2 cup red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup ice water if you aren’t a wino)

Keeping the ingredients cold, mix the meat and dry items together by hand, then add the wine and give everything a final mix.  The sausage can be formed as patties, bagged as bulk sausage, or stuffed into casings.

Feel free to add any of the other usual suspects from the Italian spice rack (basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, or rosemary), but we prefer to incorporate those into the sauce we serve with this sausage.  As with the garlic, you’ll notice a more vibrant taste if the herbs are chopped fresh.

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