Sausage is a wonderful thing to make, and it is much easier than you might expect. The history of sausage is shady but fascinating nonetheless. Dating back to the times before we had refrigeration, some butchers would make a sausage out of ‘questionable’ meats or meats past their prime, adding sodium nitrate for a pink color and strong spices to hide any strange aromas. The sausage would then be smoked and served to unsuspecting customers. These days everything is different, thanks largely to refrigeration. Making your own sausage is a simple process, and hot Italian sausage is one of the tastiest varieties. You will need a meat grinder and some sausage casings, as well as the seasonings.
Getting the Flavor Perfect
If you prefer a milder flavor, feel free to decrease the amount of red pepper flakes or even omit the pepper if you prefer. You will find the other ingredients combine nicely to offer a true tasty of Italy in every bite of the finished sausage. We suggest you cook up a little of the meat mixture after seasoning it. This is the only way to tell if there are enough spices in there, or if the flavor is good. If it seems a bit bland, you can add more spices and then cook another little piece and see if that is better. Once you are happy with the taste, you can go ahead and make the sausages.
Make These as a Team
In Italy, every member of the family gets involved when there are sausages to be made, or when there is wine to be made, although the older men tend to stay out of the kitchen at other times, leaving their wives in charge of the delicious Italian meals. It is a good idea to have someone helping you making the sausages, so one of you can be feeding the meat through the grinder while the other is holding the sausage casings and directing the mixture into them. You can make the sausages without assistance, but it is easier (and more fun) with a helping hand.
Important Tips for Making Italian Sausage
The hog casings should be prepared a day ahead. Soak them in water with a little orange juice added. Rinse them well before using them and cut them into 18 inch long pieces, then keep them in warm water so they stay flexible while you are working on the sausages. The grind to go for is coarse. A fine grind is not what you need here. Once you have made the sausages you can put them into Ziploc bags and refrigerate them for up to 3 days or freeze them for up to 3 months, or you can go ahead and cook them.
Although you can cook sausages on the barbeque from beginning to end, you will have to have the heat really low else the outside will burn before the inside is even done. This is why we suggest simmering them in beer for 15 minutes and then finishing them off on the barbeque. Choose a malt-heavy beer for a sweeter flavor which complements hot sausage especially well. You will get a perfect result that way, and the beer adds a gorgeous hint of flavor to the sausages. If you are using water instead of beer then add some Italian seasonings to it, to replace any of the flavor that seeps out of the sausages. Add onions to the beer or water too, if you wish.
- 5 lbs well-marbled pork butt
- 2 teaspoons fennel
- 2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
- 5 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- Sausage casings
- Beer or water, as needed
- Cut the meat off the bone, keeping most of the fat.
- Discard any ligaments and sinew.
- Cut the meat into 1 or 2 inch chunks which will fit in your grinder.
- Put the largest-holed plate into your grinder because you want a coarse grind.
- Put the meat on a chopping board or directly on the countertop.
- Spread it out and sprinkle the spices on top.
- Use your hands to mix the spices into the meat.
- Put a cup of the seasoned pork mixture in a skillet with ¼ cup of water.
- Cook it over a medium heat until the meat is browned, then taste it to see if the spices are right.
- If it is not spicy enough, add more to the raw meat mixture.
- Take a sausage casing and run some meat through the hopper into the casing.
- Continue until the casing is about 4 inches from fully stuffed.
- Tie it firmly with string and repeat with the remaining pork and casings.
- Tie each sausage into 6, 7 or 8 inch segments.
- Prick each one with a sharp needle to remove any air in there.
- Preheat the barbeque to low-medium.
- Simmer the sausages for 15 minutes in beer in a pan on the stove.
- If you want to use water instead of beer, add some Italian seasonings to the water.
- Transfer the sausages to the barbeque and let them get nice and brown on there.
- When they are 160 degrees F in the center, they are done.
Italian sausage comes in mild and spicy varieties, and this recipe shows you how to make a hot Italian sausage. You can make whatever shape and size of sausage you want, even making some of the mixture into patties if you want some burgers too. The fennel, paprika and hot pepper flakes add so much flavor to the pork butt and homemade Italian sausage is one of the most flavorful things you can cook on your barbeque. Poach them in beer first, then finish them on the barbeque for an incredible taste.
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