30 October, 2016

Homemade Italian Sausage

Homemade Italian Sausage
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I have been watching Pasquale Sciarappa Italian cooking videos lately. When I found myself watching Pasquale hour after hour, I realized I’m addicted. And since I have at least another month of inactivity due to back injury, I may need to find a recovery group. 🙂 

My hubby pried me away from the YouTube long enough to make our bi-monthly Costco trip and once we hit the meat section, what to my wandering eyes should appear? A large package of lean ground pork! I could hardly wait to check out and get home to make homemade Italian sausage. 
 
I have to admit I’ve never made Italian sausage before so we’re all in virgin territory here. Now, to find the meat grinder. I think I used it 10 years ago. It must be in the cupboard somewhere. My grinder is an attachment to a KitchenAid Stand Mixer.
 
Pasquale (which by the way is the Italian name for Patrick) stuffs his sausage into hog casing. Since I always take my store bought sausage out of the casing, I figured it was senseless to buy the casings, stuff them, and when ready to cook, take the casing off. So I just measured the sausage out to make links and made sausage logs with plastic wrap before I sealed them with a food saver.
 
Of course, when I was in the middle of mixing the ingredients, I realized I didn’t have enough fennel, which required a stop, drop, and roll.  (I stopped what I was doing, dropped a hint to my husband that I needed a ride to the grocery store for more fennel, and rolled into the store to get the missing ingredient.) 
 
By the way, have you bought fennel lately? It’s not as easy to find as you might think. I could only find organic and it was expensive! This recipe needs 4 tablespoons and those small spice bottles only have about 2 tablespoons in them – so at this point the fennel is costing as much as the ground pork. Yikes!
 
I see endless possibilities for sausage variations in the future. Unless there is a fantastic Italian deli that moves into my area, I’m not sure I’ll be want to go back to store bought Italian sausage any time soon. 
 
Homemade Italian Sausage
Makes between 12-16 sausages depending on the size.
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Ingredients
  1. • 4 lbs pastured lean ground pork
  2. • ¼ cup red wine, red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  3. • 2 tbsp cold water
  4. • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  5. • 4 tsp Himalayan or sea salt
  6. • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  7. • 1 tbsp onion powder
  8. • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  9. • 4 tbsp smoked paprika
  10. • 4 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
  11. • 2 tbsp crushed chili peppers
  12. • 3 tsp cayenne pepper
  13. • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
  14. • About 9 feet hog casing
Instructions
  1. Before you start, make sure that your meat is super cold, as in almost frozen.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the pork to the rest of the ingredients and mix until just incorporated, no more. If your meat is slightly frozen, simply cut it into cubes and mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Since we’ll be throwing this in the meat grinder, it won’t really matter.
  3. Work the meat into the meat grinder (if you’re using a KitchenAid Stand Mixer equipped with the meat grinder attachment, set speed to 4); when the meat is completely ground, place the finished mixture in the fridge while you prep the sausage stuffer. (This is the point that I just packaged my links in plastic wrap to seal and freeze.)
  4. Slide the hog casing onto the sausage stuffing tube and leave about 5 to 6 inches hanging at the end. You will need approximately 6 inches of casing per link, so about 9 feet total for this recipe.
  5. Hold the casing loosely at the end of the stuffing tube with one hand and let the sausage feed into the casing as you push the meat down the feeding tunnel with your other hand.
  6. The meat will take care of pulling the casing off of the tube. All you need to help shape it a little bit and push back any air bubbles that may form.
  7. Once all the meat has been pushed through, take your sausage off of the stuffing tube and start twisting this giant sausage into links, twisting in opposite directions between links to keep them from coming undone as you twist the next one. It really helps to work in sections, too, so twist right smack in the middle, then again in the middle of each newly formed section. This will leave you with 4 oversized links, which will make it easier for you to form sausages of equal length. Form 3 or 4 links out of each section, which will yield a total of 12 to 16 sausages.
  8. Once all your links are formed, tie a knot at both ends of the chain, as close to the meat as possible.
  9. Place the finished sausage in the fridge, uncovered, to let it dry a bit (I like to let mine dry overnight) then cut it into individual link.
Notes
  1. Pasquale recommends making the pork very cold. He says it would be a good idea to place it in the freezer (or in the fridge, set over a bowl of ice) for a half hour to an hour prior to starting, just to give it that little bit of extra chill. I just kept it in the fridge until I was ready to mix it and thought it worked fine.
  2. I didn't stuff my sausage into casings so made my links out of plastic wrap and then froze with a food saver (seal-a-meal).
Christina's Food And Travel http://christinasfoodandtravel.com/
The sausage turned out fantastic! Just think of adding it to the Pasta Fagoili soup I recently made, or the Primitivo Risotto. Yum!
 
I made the tastiest frittata out of it this morning and I imagine there will be sausage, peppers, and onions for dinner soon. 
Sausage Frittata
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. • 4 eggs (or egg whites)
  2. • 2 tablespoons fresh ricotta (or cottage cheese)
  3. • 1 pat of butter
  4. • olive oil
  5. • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  6. • ¼ cup Italian sausage (bulk or out of the casing)
  7. • ¼ - ½ cup cooked pasta – any kind will work
  8. • ¼ mozzarella cheese, shredded (can use provolone)
  9. • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Coat heavy fry pan with butter and a swirl of olive oil.
  2. Sauté sausage and onions in fry pan until sausage is cooked, breaking up the sausage into small bits.
  3. Add cooked pasta and mix well.
  4. In the meantime, whisk the eggs and ricotta together, add salt and pepper, and then add to the pan with the sausage and pasta.
  5. Let the eggs seep into sausage mixture, shake the pan if needed to get the eggs down into the crevices. Don’t stir!
  6. Drizzle mozzarella on top, cover, and cook on low heat for several minutes or until the eggs solidify.
  7. Timing depends on the type of cooktop you are using (gas or electric). It’s okay to check doneness by taking a spatula to lift and peak under the mixture to make sure it is not sticking to the pan and everything is cooking evenly. You may need to give the pan another shake.
Notes
  1. I cook this recipe entirely on the stovetop, however, if you wish to use the oven for the last half of the cooking, you can heat to 350 degrees and put the pan in the oven once the eggs are incorporated into the sausage mixture. Frittata should be cooked through in about 20-30 minutes
Christina's Food And Travel http://christinasfoodandtravel.com/
 
Just had to share a video of Pasquale. This one is Pasquale making his homemade meatballs. He reminds me of my grandpa who had the same Italian accent and was an excellent cook as well. 

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