IN MY LIFETIME OF EXPERIENCE IN THE SAUSAGE MAKING INDUSTRY, ONE OF THE MOST COMMON QUESTIONS IS: “HOW DO I MAKE A GOOD ITALIAN SAUSAGE?”
How can I make an easy and fast homemade Italian sausage?
Great question – even though “Italian” sausage isn’t really a thing, except for here in the U.S. – I love it.
Italian sausage is among the easiest sausage to make; in fact, it’s so easy it doesn’t require a casing to enjoy its spicy flavor. So let’s look at what’s involved to have a great sausage on hand, quickly, and best of all, homemade.
Basics of grinding sausage
When making sausage at home, the best tool is a meat grinder. Here’s some grinders I recommend.
Okay, so you don’t have a grinder and you want to make homemade sausage NOW? No worries. Feel free to use a food processor or have a butcher grind up a shoulder of meat for you. While you can expect to pay around 10 – 15 cents per pound for a butcher to grind your meat, it’s well worth it if you consider the time to remove the bone and skin.
best meat for making sausage
In my opinion pork shoulder is the best meat to use, but you can also use a pork butt, or really any meat that has some fat to it. To make it easy, anything with good marbling running throughout should work. It may be worth it to just go with whatever’s on sale. Stay away from lean meat like pork loin.
Avoid buying ground pork! This is one of the most common mistakes people make – the ratio of meat to fat is less than ideal and makes for a poor quality homemade sausage.
Be sure the meat is ground as uniform as possible – you will find more success with a grinder versus a food processor but either will do the job.
How to Make My Sausage “Italian”
The characteristics of what we understand to be Italian sausage (here in the great U.S. of A.) come down to the seasonings used.
The awesome thing about an uncased sausage is you can add almost anything you want since you don’t need to be concerned about the structure.
Here are the most common seasonings used in Italian sausage: garlic, red crushed pepper, fennel seed, some paprika and of course, salt and pepper. If you can, use cracked black pepper. Oh, another key ingredient to Italian sausage is anise – it seems like the most debated ingredient; some like it, other don’t.
Again, the beauty of making your own sausage is you decide what goes in it. If you like things a bit hotter, add more red crushed pepper, or throw in some cayenne. I like garlic, so I add more garlic in my sausage than most. Have fun with your mix, that’s what homemade sausage is all about.
The Meat Geek Italian Sausage Recipe
As previously mentioned, homemade sausage is about creating. So here’s some guidelines to making your Italian sausage, feel free add more or less of any ingredient -- or remove an ingredient altogether. Since we are not stuffing this into a casing, you will find this simple and easy.
Ground Pork: about 4 pounds
Red or White Wine: a good splash of your favorite dry red or white wine
Salt: about a tablespoon
Cracked Black Pepper: 2 teaspoons, fresh ground
Crushed Red Pepper: for mild sausage, about a teaspoon; for something a bit hotter, try two
Cayenne Pepper: for mild sausage, about a teaspoon, for something a little hotter, try two (you may want to stick with one teaspoon if you have already added two teaspoons of crushed red pepper)
Fennel Seed: under a teaspoon
Paprika: 1 tablespoon
Garlic: 2 – 3 tablespoons of chopped garlic
Mix all ingredients, and VOILA, you’re done. Let the sausage sit in the fridge for about two to three hours before you cook it.
You now have the makings for great meatballs, meatloaf, sausage and peppers, etc. The options are endless. I like to freeze leftovers to have on hand for spaghetti – it works wonders when I'm to lazy to make homemade sauce. I can just open a jar of sauce and throw in some homemade sausage for a fast meal.