Friday, June 1, 2018

Homemade Italian Sausage – I Was the Uncle Bill of My Slow Casing Fill

The last time I remember making sausage was with my Uncle Billy many years ago, who was doing his famous dried Italian sausage for Christmas Eve. By the way, I said “making,” but for the record I actually meant mostly watching. Anyway, this fresh version is inspired by those, and while we loved how they came out, I’m kicking myself for not saving a few to dry. That’s how Uncle Bill did them, and they’d be fried after Midnight Mass, and served on bread with roasted red peppers. 

They were incredible, and one of my earliest and most vivid food memories. If you’re going to make your own sausage on a regular basis, you’ll want to get a little more professional sausage-making set-up than I suffered through here.

It did the job, but was slow, even after I figured out what was holding me up. You can also grind meat in a food processor, and there are plenty of videos out there showing how, but then you’ll have to get a sausage stuffer. Speaking of videos, I know I said I’d try to find a link to a more detailed demo using better equipment, but just head over to YouTube and watch literally any other sausage video. Besides, the actual recipe is the hard part.

For a little nicer flavor, you can toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan just until you begin to smell them. This goes for any other whole spices you may want to grind and toss in. Also, if you can manage not to eat them right away, I think letting them dry for a day or two really deepens the flavor, and firms up the texture as well. So, with a wink heavenward to Uncle Billy, I'll close by saying, I really do hope you give these homemade Italian sausages a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 8 to 10 Italian Sausages:
3 pounds pork shoulder
28 grams kosher salt (1 ounce)
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons whole fennel seed, toasted
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon anise seed
2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons cold water


adamsorber said...

No mention of the casings. Were those natural?

Unknown said...

My dad loves Italian sausage I really want to make this for him for father's day. Is there an alternate way to do it if I don't have the attachments for the kitchenaid?

Unknown said...

My dad loves Italian Sausage and I would really like to make this for Father's Day. Is there an alternate method I could use if I don't have these attachments for grinding and stuffing?

Emerson White said...

Anise seed? Italian sausage traditionally uses fennel, doesn't it?

rashep142 said...

Chef John,

Thanks for the recipe.
Are those pork or sheep casings?

Jeff in Philly said...

You control the olfactory of your sausage factory!

June said...

This looks delicious, thanks!

I make the breakfast sausage patties, but use ground turkey and then freeze them for future meals. I do use a small amount powdered sage, too.

ghack said...

I've had some good results (not great, but good enough) with the Kitchenaid. To share:

The key point is keep everything cold, cold and colder. For both grinding and especially stuffing, put the attachment in the freezer for an hour or two. I'm in warmer climes, so for stuffing, I've started freezing it overnight with a gel ice pack taped around the lower part. The meat should be placed in the freezer for 20 min or so, on a tray preferably, before grinding or stuffing, and don't worry about a little crunch around the edges. The ground meat for stuffing I hold in a bowl set in bowl of ice during the process.

And I think Chef is right about the casing being pushed up too high to pull off readily. I will push the casing down to the end a bit at a time and let it fill naturally. It will look a little under stuffed, but it will all fill out in the end. A little steady pressure from the plunger really helps. It will ooze around the base of it creating a bit of a mess that has to be cleared every so often, but it works. At the end, toss a few torn up slices of bread to clear the last of the meat from the unit you've worked so hard for.

Lawrence said...

Chef John,
Great video. I started with a Kitchen Aid meat grinder. But after much use the plastic around where you attach it to the mixer is cracked. I bolster it with an automotive radiator hose clamp. But I moved on to a dedicated grinder machine. And it has only one speed setting. Fairly fast. All the research I have done on sausage making stresses the need to keep the meat cold at all stages. And I have seen the effects of overworking the mixture. I was stuffing once and forgot to take the blade out of the assembly. I notice you had no casing breaks. Technique or editing? They aren't catastrophic in any case. I mean to get a stuffing press and forgo trying to use the grinder for that. It hasn't worked well for me. What do you think about lubricating the interior of the casing with olive oil to aid stuffing? I've seen it done and the last time I tried stuffing a really good bratwurst mix it just wouldn't move. Frustrating. Sausage making is a cooking feat I've not quite mastered yet, but it's within my grasp. Bruce Aidells' cookbook has some really lovely chorizo recipies, among others. Love your blog.

אכילה-רגשית said...

can i use beef or lamb?

Unknown said...

Chef John, I was fortunate enough to grow up in small community with many large families of Italian heritage. One tip for homemade sausage making I learned was never pass up the chance to add more flavor by substituting tomato juice, wine, etc. for water when bringing your meat mixture together.

Iver said...

Hello Chef John,
Charcuterie is one of my hobbies and I will be giving Uncle Billy's version a try soon. I am very interested to know more about how he dried the sausages and for how long. Dried and fried sausage is a new idea for me.

Unknown said...

Hi Chef John! What size and kind of casings are you using? I already have the stand mixer and attachments but I am seeing too many choices for casings. Thanks.

Ann B said...

Dear Chef John,

I've become a very big fan of yours and watch your videos and visit your blog spot daily. Today I attempted to make salmon cakes while pretending to be you, ( which I do whenever I attempt to cook), and managed to create something I did not end up throwing away! THANK YOU for your patient teaching and close up screen shots and information regarding proper temperatures!

I will continue to watch and absorb!


hhh said...

I have been watching your videos for years and tried a lot of your recipes, so much pleasure and goodness!!
For me, this is one of your greatest!! Can't wait to try these again with boar and moose!
Oh! and I replaced the water with red wine and sugar with maple syrup!
Thank you so much chef John!

Gamer Deluxe said...

Made me laugh and made me hungry! Looking forward to making this recipe. Thx, Chef John

Lisa said...

Great looking sausage! I like how you put it on bread.
I know this isn't the place to ask this question but there used to be a "make a foodwish" link... and now I can't find it on the website.
How do we make a foodwish?

Mike said...

You mentioned letting the sausage dry for a couple of days. What does that mean? I want to try it :D

Unknown said...

wow! delicious! I did these over the weekend, and they are fantastic! I have a kitchenaid with attachment, which works well for me, but you could chop it all by hand with a couple of cleavers, that works well too.

I see sausage pizza in my future.

csquared said...

Wow this recipe is fantastic. We made twelve pounds this weekend. We even toasted the seeds. We used edible collagen casings... don't like the intestine - at least not working with it. As we unprocess our diets, we find that we can make better tasting food that is also leaner.
Great recipe. THANKS!

Unknown said...

My wife and I make Italian, Thai, Polish and whatever strikes our fancy at the time. We tend to stay away from natural casings (1) hard to find in our area; (2) depending on type of sausage you make will determine type and thickness of casings.

ScienceSusan said...

I shall make some today without any casing. I will sauté them, douse them in sauce, deglaze and offer them beside meatballs for sandwiches. I have long been baffled, flummoxed, perplexed that my favorite chef (CJ) would purchase Italian sausages and disembowel them rather than make his own naked stuff.

ScienceSusan said...

Clearly I meant alongside, not beside. Jeez.