Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sage, Spicy, Sweet

About half a year ago, I decided it would be much cheaper if we purchased our meat in large quantities once a year and divided it up for storage in our large freezer. Many butchers will cut your meat to order, i.e., buy a pork loin and you can get two roasts and two dozen chops. The cost is minimal compared to buying these items individually. It was around this time that I had purchased a pork shoulder, and my husband had given me a meat grinder for Christmas, so it was only natural for me to make sausage. I had used the other half of the shoulder to make this fantastic braised pork shoulder with fennel, and as the remaining half sat in the freezer, I began fantasizing about what I should do with it. I decided it should be sausage. At the incredible prices you pay for sausage, and the amount of sausage I use, I figured I would save some money. I told my plan to my husband (it seems like I always have plans) and began thinking about the types of sausage I would make.
A few weeks later, I still hadn't made the sausage, and we were in a hotel watching TV (we don't have cable...for some strange reason my husband thinks I would spend too my time watching the Food Network...hmmmm) so, I was watching Emeril's show, and guess what he was making...sausage! I was so excited! I decided to try his recipe, for Mild Italian Sausage. I also made sage, which I use when I make stuffing, and hot, which is a favorite for biscuits and gravy. They were amazing and delicious! I still can't believe I made them and they turned out that good. And it was so incredibly easy!
For grinding the meat, you can use a KitchenAid attachment, which you can also use to grind your own hamburger mixes (that way you know exactly what's in there), or a counter top grinder. If you have neither, you can cut the meat by hand. It is very tedious, and will not be as uniform as a grinder.

Each of these recipes makes three pounds. Be sure you have the right amount when you start, and be sure to test each type you make by frying it up and tasting it. Salt is very important here as it brings the flavors together.
Mild Italian Sausage Recipe
(note: ground anise seeds are the same as fennel seeds. You can use a mortar and pestle to grind the fennel seeds for the ground anise the recipe calls for. To toast seeds, just put them in a pan on the stove top on medium low heat, stirring constantly, until you smell them.)

For the sage sausage, I used a Tablespoon each of salt and pepper, and simply added a Tablespoon of powdered sage and 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh sage.

For the hot sausage, I used a Tablespoon each of salt and pepper, 2 teaspoons cayenne, 2 teaspoons chili pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons chipotle powder (you can find it at World Market), 2 teaspoons paprika, and 2 teaspoons chili powder. Taste the sausage and adjust the seasonings. I added more, because we like ours very hot.

I divided the sausage into 1-lb portions and wrapped them in plastic wrap, then labeled them for storage in the freezer.

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