Throughout the busy years I’ve tried a variety of store bought Italian sausages that are okay but never match the quality of Italian sausage my Grandfather made when I was a child. I’ve always had the recipe for this great tasting sausage but never had the time to make it.
Yes, making your own sausage takes plenty of time and you need plenty of help in the kitchen to prepare such a family recipe. Anyone who has ever made Italian sausage before knows that you start out as the sausage holder not the mixer. The mixer is the person who mixes all the ingredients for the stuffer to make the sausage with.
If you are not experienced with grinding, mixing or stuffing then you get to hold the sausage in the front so the casing doesn’t break and to make sure all the air bubbles are out. Not until you master this technique can you work your way up through the ranks of grinder, mixer and stuffer.
For generations Sicilians have been making sausages in there own special way. Each town or each home would produce a different type of family sausage. The type of meat varied as well as the spice mixture that was used. Each home would at least have one thing in common and that would be the sausage grinder and stuffing machine.
So you can imagine how happy I was when my Aunt asked if I wanted my Grandfather’s sausage making equipment. Yes I know I can buy attachments for my Kitchen Aid or food processor to do the job but we all know it won’t taste the same as putting the meat through fifty pounds of cold steel attached to side of your kitchen table. There’s something about spending hours grinding, mixing and stuffing by hand that gives the sausage that extra love that’s needed to create perfection.
Now let me remind you that half way through this process you will definitely start to miss all of your modern day utensils. That is why you use more people in the kitchen to pick up the slack when your arms get tired from cranking out the meat.
So if I have not scared you away just yet, lets continue on the equipment you will need to create this miracle. I’ll first give you the old equipment version and then the modern equipment version just in case you decide to take the easy way out.
The version my Aunt gave me was the old heavy hand crank version with a grinder and sausage making attachments. There was also a grating attachment which I remember my Grandmother using to grate cheese and to turn stale bread into breadcrumbs.
The modern version of these tools are simply a grinder, mixer and sausage stuffing attachments that you can purchase with your Kitchen Aid Mixer. This method is much quicker and less strenuous on the arms.
Here is my Grandfather’s recipe for Sicilian sausage. It can be used to make into links or you can leave some of it in bulk to use with your favorite pasta. I usually make a sausage cream sauce with the bulk mixture or add it to my gravy.
Traditional Homemade Sicilian Sausage
- 25 pounds of pork shoulder
- pork casings (get from butcher)
- 1/4 cup of whole fennel seed
- 1/2 cup of fresh ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup of salt
- 1/2 cup of paprika
- 1/4 cup of dried basil
- 1/8 cup of dried oregano
- 1/2 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup of garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 cup of red wine
1. Soak the casings overnight in salt water.Before using the casing rinse well and cut into 18 inch pieces.
2. Keep the casings in a small bowl of warm water.
3. Cut the pork into 1 inch cubes keeping some fat on the meat so the meats stays moist. The best ratio to this is 80% meat 20% fat.
4. Using the meat grinding attachment, grind the meat into a ground pork type texture.
5. In a large, deep pan season the meat with the remaining ingredients and thoroughly mix together by hand until all the spices are blended through.
6. For best results I like to refrigerate the mixture overnight t let the spices blend.
7. Take the meat out of the fridge and let it stand for about 30 minutes to reach room temperature. It makes stuffing a lot easier and doesn’t clog up the tube.
8. Test the flavor of the sausage by frying some up in a pan. Adjust seasoning accordingly before stuffing.
9. Using a tube attachment, carefully slide the casing on the tube.
10. Stuff the casing with sausage mixture being careful not break the casing. Remove any air bubbles with a toothpick. This is a two person job. One to turn the crank to stuff the sausage and one to hold the sausage as it’s being made.
11.Twist the casing around every 7 inches or however long you want.
When your finished they’re ready to cook, freeze or give away. Make sure you always get the whole family involved when making sausage or any great Italian meal. Enjoy!
Phil has been cooking and creating Italian dishes ever since the age of ten. His passion and love for Italian food is never ending. Visit him at http://www.great-chicago-italian-recipes.com for more family favorites.