Sausage…Homemade Italian

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Making your own Italian sausage has distinct advantages: No preservatives, control over the fat to meat ratio…and it’s practical, versatile and simple to make. Everyone seems surprised and impressed to hear it’s homemade. I tell them, no problem, this is a family recipe. Did I mention it’s delicious!

Although I don’t grind pork shoulder and pipe it into casings like mom did (not yet) – I just head to my local butcher or supermarket and buy a pound or two of fresh ground pork or turkey. I season the meat, let it rest briefly…and it’s ready to cook (or freeze for later) for breakfast, brunch or dinner.

Patties go well with eggs – ground and browned is good in an omelet, frittata, quiche or pasta. For pizza, there’s no need to precook the sausage – just pinch off small pieces, dot your pizza and bake it at 400 degrees F. or higher. I do purchase links on occasion when I need a significant amount to feed a crowd for a specific occasion. I also use ground turkey, it’s a leaner alternative (recipe below) using similar spices (less the wine and Romano cheese). When cooking the turkey sausage, a little vegetable oil in the skillet is necessary so it doesn’t stick.

The Italian pork sausage consists of ground pork (about 75% lean). The seasonings consist of toasted fennel seeds, fresh garlic, dried parsley, kosher salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, Pecorino-Romano cheese and a little white wine.

A note about the spices: Red pepper flakes can be used to taste. This is a mild sausage – see the hot or sweet variations below (following the recipe).

I cover with plastic wrap and place the sausage in a plastic storage bag for a few hours…to overnight, to allow the flavors to meld.


Italian Sausage – Homemade

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Pork Sausage

1  tablespoon fennel seeds

2  garlic cloves, minced

3/4  teaspoon kosher salt

1  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4  teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1  teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1  tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh, finely grated Romano cheese

1  pound ground pork

1  tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons white wine (such as Pinot Grigio)


Turkey Sausage

2  teaspoons fennel seeds

2  garlic cloves, minced

3/4  teaspoon kosher salt

1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4  teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3/4  teaspoon dried oregano

1/8  teaspoon onion powder

1  pound ground turkey

1  tablespoon canola oil for pan


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Scatter the fennel seeds in a flat pan and toast for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

For Pork Sausage: Place the remaining spices and cheese in a bowl, and stir to combine. In a large bowl, break the meat apart and spread it against the bottom and sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the meat with the spice mixture and drizzle with the wine. Mix with a fork or clean hands until well blended (the pork mixture will be moist).

For Turkey Sausage: Proceed in the same manner as above, with respective ingredients.

Shape the meat into in a log, cover with plastic wrap and place in an airtight plastic storage bag. Refrigerate for several hours (or overnight) to allow the flavors to meld. To make sausage patties, shape into 2 to 3-inch patties or links, about 3/4-inch-thick. Cook the pork sausage in a preheated nonstick skillet over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side (cook the turkey sausage in an oiled skillet to prevent sticking). The outside of the patties should be crisp and browned and the centers slightly tender. To make ground sausage, break the meat into pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon, and brown for about 5 minutes.

Variations: For hot spicy sausage, reduce the fennel by half and add (to taste), 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes or cayenne. For sweet sausage, omit the red pepper flakes and add 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil…or alternatively, 1 teaspoon dried.



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