Casual summer meals…al fresco!
Ever get a hankering for some good old fashioned authentic hot Italian sausage with pasta or topping a pizza, but not a traditional Italian market to be found to fulfill your cravings? Why not make it yourself!
There is no mystery to making Italian sausage forcemeat, and sparing yourself the tedium of having to stuff the meat into casings in the process, which you would be removing from purchased sausages anyway, makes it all the easier. The other alternative is to roll the sausage mixture into meatballs.
The recipe that follows is remarkably quick to prepare and makes enough for several meals. Simply divide extra uncooked sausage forcemeat or meatballs into appropriate portions for your next couple of meals and freeze.
A simple basic red sauce recipe is included that, used in tandem with the sausage, will produce a stellar Italian meal in about an hour and is sure to satisfy even the most seasoned Italian sausage aficionados.
Homemade Italian Sausage with Red Sauce: The recipe will make enough for several meals for four.
- 4 ½ pounds/2 kilos freshly ground pork shoulder
- ¼ cup minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon +1 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon cayenne + more to taste
- ½ teaspoon anise seeds, ground
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1/3 cup dry red or white wine
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Prepare a day or two in advance.
Place the ground pork in a large bowl. Add the garlic, paprika, toasted fennel seeds, sea salt, black pepper, cayenne, anise seeds, and sugar. Using both hands knead the seasonings into the pork until evenly distributed. Add the Italian parsley and wine and knead again until combined. Gather the mixture into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic film, and refrigerate for a day or two.
Remove the marinated pork from the refrigerator at least an hour before you plan to cook it. Or, portion out the uncooked sausage mixture you want to use for later meals, place in freezer bags, and freeze.
Cooking the sausage:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. When hot, break the pork sausage mixture apart and scatter it into the skillet and let it sizzle for a minute and then begin turning the pork continuously, breaking it up into bits as it cooks. The pork will release its juices and fat. Continue to cook until the juices are nearly evaporated and continue to cook until lightly browned. Taste and add additional cayenne and salt to your liking.
Skim off excess fat and transfer the browned sausage meat to a bowl and set aside while you make the red sauce.
The other alternative is to roll the pork sausage mixture into meatballs.
- 2 kilos prepared Italian sausage mixture
- 1 1/2 cups crumbled crustless stale bread
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 cups grated Parmigiano cheese
- 1 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
- 4 eggs, whisked
- 4 cups flour for dredging
- olive oil for browning
Place the bread in a large mixing bowl and add the milk. Soak for 5 minutes until the milk is absorbed.
Add the prepared sausage mixture, the grated Parmigiano, chopped parsley, and the whisked eggs. Using your hands gently combine the ingredients until the mixture holds together.
Roll about 1 oz of the mixture into meatballs, or larger if you like. Dredge the meatballs in the flour, shaking off excess flour and place them on a baking tray or platter. When finished cover with cling film and refrigerate for several hours to firm up the meat before browning.
Set a large skillet over medium flame and add olive oil to about a 1/4 depth. When hot add meatballs without crowding and brown on all sides, gently turning as they brown. Once they are firmed up they are cooked through.
At this point you can either place the meatballs in the red sauce and heat the sauce to a low simmer to reheat before serving. Or cool the meatballs to room temperature, add them to cooled red sauce and refrigerate, or freeze, for later use.
Basic Red Sauce: serves 4
As the Italian sausage is well seasoned, this simple red sauce is all you will need for a hearty pasta or pizza.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt +more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ¼ cup red or white wine
- 1 large can crushed tomatoes with juice
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups stock or water
- 1 cup thinly sliced Cremini or Portobello mushrooms (optional)
- freshly grated Parmigiano
- freshly chopped Italian parsley
Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. When hot add the onions, salt, and pepper. Saute until the onions are soft without browning. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has nearly evaporated.
Make a well in the center of the onions and add the tomato paste and cook to caramelize, 1-2 minutes. Then stir the tomato paste into the onion mixture. Add the crushed tomatoes and juice and stir until combined. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the sauce is just simmering and cook until the sauce is reduced to nearly the consistency you desire.
Add the cooked sausage, and sliced mushrooms( if using), and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
Serving: Serve promptly tossed with pasta or spread onto pizza rounds for baking. Top with grated Parmigiano and freshly chopped Italian parsley.