Home Made Italian Sausage
One of the fun things about being a chef is teaching something new to your fellow chefs. So, on a snowy Saturday afternoon, I invited chef Paul Delios and his wife Jean to join me in my kitchen so I could teach them how to make Italian sausage, all without a machine! All you really need is a funnel and a thumb!
Making Italian sausage means first getting the right cut of pork, a pork shoulder butt which has a good ratio of fat to meat, otherwise the sausage will be dry. Once you have picked one out, tell the butcher how many pounds you need and have the meat ground once on coarse grind and once on fine grind for the proper consistency.
Then buy a package of natural hog casings usually found in the meat section of your grocery store or your butcher may sell them. They are packed in salt so you will need to soak them and chance the water several times before using them. Unused casings can be frozen for future use. Cut the casings with a scissors to the desired length. Slip one open end of the casing onto the neck of a sausage funnel and push the entire casing onto the neck, but leave about an inch at the other end and tie it into a knot.
I season pork sausage with fennel seeds, hot red pepper flakes, butcher's coarse black pepper and fine sea salt. These are the classic seasonings, but there are many variations. Once the mixture is seasoned, test it first by frying a small amount in a frying pan and tasting it for flavor. If it needs more salt or other seasoning add it to the meat mixture. Take a small amount of the meat and start pushing it into the funnel with your thumb; be sure to fill the casing so there are no empty cavities. When there is about 2 inches of casing left to fill, slip the casing off the funnel and tie the end with a knot. Use a toothpick to poke the sausage in several spots to allow any excess air to escape. Italian sausage is best cooked on the grill and served with roasted red sweet peppers and onions. To freeze, wrap sausage in plastic wrap and then place in plastic bags to freeze.
Homemade Italian Sausage
Makes 7 pounds
7 pounds ground pork shoulder
3 tablespoons whole fennel seeds
2 1/4 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
1 scan tablespoon coarse black pepper
Rinsed natural hog casings.
Sausage making class
Paul and Jean Delios
Paul and Jean learn how to make sausage from Mary Ann