Did you know that the well-known “Italian Sausages” originate from Sicily? On this island – and at other place deep in the south of Italy, families still prepare their own sausages and you can learn to do this as well.
Italian sausages are based on pork meat, but if you think this meat has too much fat, you can replace it by chicken meat. It will also cost less. Italians themselves love a sausage that has the classic taste. Pigs nowadays are grown to have less fat, so the Italians add extra fat to the meat. They use a ratio of 3-to-1 of meat to fat. If you cut down on the fat added, they say, your sausages will become dry and crumbly.
To home-make your Italian sausages (about 8 pounds) you’ll need: 6 pounds of pork meat, 2 pounds of pork fat (not salted), 6 tablespoons of fennel seed, 3 to 4 tablespoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of black pepper (even better when freshly grounded), one and a half cup of grated cheese (if you want this to be truly Italian, choose pecorino), 1 cup of dry red wine.
Some people use sausage casings, but you can do without, that’s up to you. The only equipment you’ll need is a meat grinder, which is mostly an accessory to many electric mixers.
Thoroughly mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and then cover it with plastic foil. Then put the bowl into the refrigerator and leave it there for about four hours. If you leave it there overnight, the flavors will blend even better.
Attach one end of the sausage casing (you can buy it at every supermarket or at the butcher’s) over the funnel of your meat grinder and tie an knot in the other end.
Turn on your grinder or mixer and allow the mixture to fill the casing. Be careful that the stuffing enters the casing continuously and that you see no development of air bubbles. If they should occur, it is best to cut the sausage at that point and start another one. My neighbor, who’s a butcher, makes his sausages in one long end, and only afterwards divides them into sausages which have more or less the same length and weight.
You can now cook the sausages immediately, or you can choose to freeze them for later use. I’d suggest you use some straight away, and freeze the rest, as it’s quite a job and then you only need to do it once. Frozen meat stays fine for about 4 months. In the refrigerator you can only leave the sausages for 2 days.
To cook the sausages, you have to put them into a big pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to the boiling point. When you see the first bubbles, reduce the heat a bit and poach the sausages. You’ll need ten minutes if you want to serve them grilled or fried, and forty minutes if you serve them boiled.