Homemade Italian Sausages

2 dozen sausages

This recipe has been adapted from "Cooking by Hand" by Paul Bertolli.


  • 3 ½ pounds lean pork, preferably from the shoulder

  • 1 pound 2 ½ ounces fresh back fat

  • ½ pound fresh pork skin

  • 40 grams salt

  • 7 grams freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 ½ grams dry sage

  • ½ gram cayenne pepper

  • 7 grams fresh garlic, smashed to a paste in a mortar

  • 4 grams sweet anise seeds

  • 7 grams dextrose (corn sugar)

  • Standard hog casing, rinsed


  1. Cut pork and back fat into 1-inch chunks, and place on a baking sheet. Cover with parchment-lined foil, and transfer to the freezer until very cold and almost frozen. Using a meat grinder fitted with a 3/8-inch plate, grind pork and back fat together into a large chilled bowl. Change to a 3/16-inch plate, and grind half of the mixture again. Transfer all of the mixture to refrigerator until cold.

  2. Meanwhile, cut pork skin into 2-inch pieces. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add pork skin, and cook until it offers little resistance to the point of a knife, about 1 hour. Drain, and rinse pork skin under cold running water. Using a meat grinder fitted with a 1/8-inch plate, grind pork skin. Place ground skin on a plate, and refrigerate until well chilled.

  3. Remove chilled pork, fat, and skin from refrigerator. Break skin into small pieces. Add to a large roasting pan with salt, black pepper, sage, cayenne pepper, garlic, anise seeds, and dextrose. Mix vigorously with a large spatula, alternately cutting through mixture with the edge of the spatula and turning it over until well-blended, about 5 minutes. As you mix you will notice the meat grow firm and compact.

  4. Tie a knot at the end of hog casing to prevent any of the sausage mixture from coming out. Fit the casing onto a sausage stuffer, and stuff the sausage mixture into it. Twirl off to roughly 4 1/2-inch lengths. Using thin kitchen twine, tie off sausages to prevent them from untwirling. Poke sausages to release any air. Hang to dry in a warm, dry place until sausages lose their surface moisture, then refrigerate. The sausages may be well wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.

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