Sweet Italian Sausage



 
The fennel-spiked sausage that turns up in such favorite Italian-American preparations as pizza, meatball sandwiches, custardy casseroles, and savory pies has so captured the heart of American cooking that it can be found in supermarkets and deli cases from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Northwest and everywhere in between. Not only is it one of the tastiest and most popular sausages, but it is also one of the easiest to make at home because it doesn't require a casing. In fact, most recipes call for taking it out of its casing. If you want to serve the sausage as links, stuff it into hog casing. The recipe yields a larger amount than the other recipes in the book because this sausage is so versatile that I like to have some on hand in the freezer.
Makes 2 pounds
1 3/4 pounds ground pork
1/4 pound salt pork, fat part only, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano or scant 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or scant 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste, if needed

Place all the ingredients except the salt in a large bowl, and knead with your hands until thoroughly blended. Cook and taste a small sample, then add the salt if needed. Leave in bulk and shape as directed in individual recipes or stuff into hog casing. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to blend. Saute or grill, or cook as directed in individual recipes. (The uncooked sausage will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 week.)