Homemade Hot Italian Sausage – All of the flavor, none of the fillers!

It was a very sad day for me when I came to realize that most commercially prepared sausage, even the so called “Pure-Beef” or “Pure-Pork”, were in fact not entirely made out of nothing-but-pure-meat. Indeed, most of them, even the artisan made and organic products of this world often contain all kinds of fillers, namely bread crumbs and other wheat products; in other words, gluten! And that’s when you’re lucky enough for them not to be filled with an array of other undesirable ingredients such as soy, msg and various chemicals whose names no one can pronounce. Who would have thunk that such nasties could even be found in a beautiful thing like a fresh sausage?

Homemade Italian Sausage| by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

This sad revelation could only mean one thing: my joyous happy sausage eating days were behind me. What was a lifetime of not eating Hot Italian Sausage going to be like? I almost wept. But then I learned that making sausage at home was not complicated in the least! Messy? Somewhat, yes. A bit lengthy? Perhaps! But as far as the difficulty level is concerned, making sausage at home is almost as easy as making meat patties from scratch. The only difference is, this time, when you’re done grinding the meat, you need to stuff it into hog casings. All you need to do this is a sausage stuffer, a little bit of time on your hands and a few handfuls of patience. What if you don’t have a meat grinder and sausage stuffer? You can just mix all the ingredients together, form the mixture into patties and cook it as is. Then, relabel your dish “Breakfast Sausage” and you’re all set and good to go! Besides, tons of people remove the casings from their sausage before to cook it because they don’t care for it… so why go through the hassle in the first place? But if you do want to go through the entire process of sausage making, then by all means, join me! 

Homemade Italian Sausage| by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Firstly, work the meat, aromatics and spices through the meat grinder without the stuffer attachment installed.

Why? Well, for one, because we have it, therefore we might as well use it, right? 

Secondly, I find that grinding the meat a second time will give it a finer texture and will ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly combined and well incorporated. Our sausage will be evenly textured and flavored throughout.

Homemade Italian Sausage| by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Now slide the hog casing onto the sausage stuffing tube and leave about 5 to 6 inches hanging at the end. Each link requires approximately 6 inches of casing, so about 9 feet total will be needed for this recipe. Don’t tie the end at this point: you want any eventual air bubbles to be able to escape, if need be.

Homemade Italian Sausage| by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

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. This process is actually somewhat easier if you have someone there to help you; this way you can use both your hands to shape and support the sausage while your partner feeds the meat into the grinder. But, as you can see, the task can very well be handled by one person alone, even if said person also happens to be taking pictures WHILE stuffing the sausage. ;)

Homemade Italian Sausage| by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

As you feed the meat into the grinder, it 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.

And nothing’s going to explode if you let go of the meat feeder to use both your hands to shape your sausage for a few seconds. You can take your time, too, you know. There’s a little lever on this fancy mixing machine that controls the speed. You can turn that one down a notch or two, and it will buy you even more time. :)

The only thing that you want to avoid, really, is feeding air into your casing, so just make sure that if you let go, there’s plenty of meat still to go down that feeder.

Homemade Italian Sausage| by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Once all the meat has been pushed through, you will want to take your sausage off of the stuffing tube and twist this giant sausage into links.

It really helps to twist in opposite directions between links to keep them from coming undone as you twist the next one.

Homemade Italian Sausage| by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

It find it’s a lot easier to form links of equal lengths when I work in sections, so what I do is I twist right smack in the middle of the giant sausage, then once more in the middle of each of these 2 newly formed sections.

Homemade Italian Sausage| by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

This will leave you with 4 oversized links, which you will then want to form into 3 or 4 links each, which will yield a total of 12 to 16 sausages.

Home Made Italian Sausage | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Once all your links have been formed, tie a knot at both ends of the chain, as close to the meat as possible. 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 links.

I swear, these babies not only look, they also taste exactly, if not better, than the real thing! And the best part is, I get to control how mild or spicy I want my sausage to be! This recipe has a real good kick to it, maybe a tiny bit more than the ones we are accustomed to. This is just spicy enough for my taste, but feel free to adjust the seasoning to accommodate your taste buds.

Tell you what: equipped with that knowledge, I no longer have a reason to sigh when I pass next to the sausage counter at the food market! And I can brag my heart out that *I* made the sausage myself when I serve it to my friends and family!

Imagine this: Homemade sausage, served with homemade mustard, homemade sauerkraut and homemade pickles.

HA! Now there’s something I can be proud of!

Homemade Italian Sausage

Yield: Yields 16 sausages

NF is based on 1 of 16 sausages

Homemade Italian Sausage

INGREDIENTS

  • 2kg (4 lbs) pastured lean ground pork
  • ¼ cup red wine, red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 tsp Himalayan or sea salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 4 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2 tbsp crushed chili peppers
  • 3 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • About 9 feet hog casing

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Before you start, make sure that your meat is super cold, as in almost frozen. 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.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add your meat along with 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.
  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 links.
http://thehealthyfoodie.com/home-made-italian-sausage/
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Comments

  1. Cindy near Fruita, CO says

    You’ve gone too far this time, so dedicated to your craft, this looks fantastic. It also looks time consuming.

    • says

      Thank you Daniel, but I’m not sure I understand your question. What do you mean by what’s wrong with pork, exactly? Did my post, in any way, lead you to believe that pork wasn’t good for you? I really hope not, because clearly, that is not the case. Pork, when well sourced, is extremely good for you. What’s wrong with commercial sausage is all the fillers and chemicals that get added to them. So by making your sausage at home, you get to control the quality of the meat that goes into it, as well as other ingredients too. And you get to leave all the wheat based fillers out… Hope this helps a bit, but if not, don’t hesitate to ask! :)

  2. says

    You have now just put me in the running for girlfriend of the year award! I’ll have to conjure these up for my one and only very soon!

  3. says

    These are so beautiful! Okay, you’ve inspired me to pull out the sausage stuffer again – it’s been too long. It feels so good knowing exactly what’s going in your food!

  4. chris says

    Upon review of this recipe I can say two things: the end product is dry, and it is very crumbly. Let me explain, but before I do, I understand you’re trying to go for healthy here. Okay, first, there is nothing wrong with bread crumbs in commercial sausage. In fact, bread and bread crumbs are a very common ingredient in forcemeats such as sausage. The reason we put bread crumbs in sausage is the same reason we put it in Americas favorite forcemeat, MEATLOAF, for moisture. It soaks up moisture from the addition of liquids through the mixing process and holds it until it is cooked. Without the addition of fat which is almost crucial to sausage, there is no binding agent. The fat acts as an emulsifier and holds everything together creating a smooth, fine texture. I thank you for trying, and while I’m not god and in no way bash or discredit this blog, some foods should be left alone.

    • says

      I appreciate your intervention, but you see, the problem with bread crumbs is that it contains gluten, which contains phytates and other anti-nutrients that aren’t only harmful to your body but also prevent proper absorption of other beneficial nutrients. Also, for those people out there who are highly intolerant, namely those who suffer from celiac disease or leaky gut syndrome, absorption of only the tiniest amount of gluten can have disastrous consequences. As such, I’m sure that they are more than willing to sacrifice a little bit in the texture department to have the pleasure of tasting once again the full flavor of a food they once loved.

      As far as adding more fat is concerned, while it’s true that this sausage isn’t as “firm and tight” as most commercial products out there, I find that the pork meat alone supplies ample amounts to produce a sausage that holds its shape well when sliced and feels juicy enough in the mouth. However, if one felt the need to add more, I totally agree that incorporating a little bit of lard or pork fat could be beneficial in giving the final product a tighter, smoother feel.

      With all due respect, we all make our own choices when it comes to the food that we put into our body. That being said, if you don’t agree with this sausage recipe, you are more than welcome to make yours whichever way you see fit. Do give others, however, the option of deciding for themselves whether this recipe will suit their needs or not.

  5. says

    These kinds of recipes worry me about the foods I buy at the store and move me towards making more of my own food. I love sausage and buy it almost every week. Not only am I more worried about what’s in it, it’s also very expensive to buy sausage. Perhaps it’s time to try this myself.. well, the patties anyway as I don’t have the right equipment (yet).

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