… from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? Italian Sausage has such marvelous flavor and texture, and it is so adaptable to many styles of cooking. Traditional Italian Sausage is made from seasoned ground pork stuffed into casing skins to produce links about 6 inches long. But it doesn’t have to be only links… it can be country sausage patties. I use most of my Italian Sausage out of their casing and blend it with sauces and pasta dishes such lasagna.
Initially known as lucanica, the first evidence of the sausage dates to the 5th century BC when the Roman historian Marco Terenzio Varrone described this use of stuffing his meat into the pig intestine together with spices and salt. The original lucanica was “a minced meat stuffed into a casing, because our soldiers learned how to make it, transport it and prepare it from the Lucanians." Confirmation of the birth in Basilicata are also the writings of Cicero and Martial that mention Lucania as the birthplace of the sausage.
Typically, Italian Sausage is made from roughly ground pork seasoned with fennel seed and red pepper flakes. That combination gives Italian sausage its distinctive flavor and character. Homemade Italian Sausage is easy to make and very tasty. My recipe uses lean meat; it’s low in sodium and sugar with full flavor in every bite. You can use this recipe in any recipe that calls for Italian sausage, even an Italian Sausage sandwich that can be served like a burger.
The most common varieties marketed as "Italian Sausage" in supermarkets are hot, sweet and mild. The main difference between hot and mild is the addition and amount of hot red pepper flakes to the spice mix. The difference between mild and sweet is the addition of sweet basil in the latter.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cool and freeze time: 8 hours
Yield: 24 – 2-ounce sausage patties
1/4 cup dry red wine, chilled
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon roasted garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/8 teaspoon coriander seed, coarsely cracked
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
2 pounds extra-lean ground turkey breast or extra lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
ChefSecret: If you have the time, patience, and a sausage link attachment for your Kitchen Aid mixer, you can buy casings from your local butcher and fill them into tube sausages. To make a perfect sausage that cooks properly, balance out the fat ratio to 70% ground lean meats and 30% ground fats. Give it a try—it can be fun.
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