Sweet Italian Sausage

Sweet Italian sausage about to be tied off.

I think I know what Cliff Clavin felt like walking into Cheers. When I walk in to Weiland's Gourmet Market, I shoot the breeze with the butcher. He told me the other day of the US's problems with hog casings. They're really expensive these days. The pork's stable, but the casing's have doubled in the past year. I've told them of my recent sausage making endeavors and they share my enthusiasm. They make Weilands for me.

This was my first pork sausage attempt. Fresh ground pork butt (4 lbs), some garlic, smoked sweet Spanish paprika, fresh basil and some other spices. The critical spice was salt. If you add too much, too bad, batch ruined. Too little, still a problem. Incorporating more involves additional mixing and maybe overmixing. This one, I just followed the recipe and hoped for the best. The sample quenelle (alright, it was a good sized patty), I just cooked was fabulous. I'll be carting these off to our cookouts this weekend. Recipe by Ruhlman, followed to the letter with the addition of chopped fresh basil.

If you have a Kitchen Aid, the attachments are cheap (or get a dedicated grinder/stuffer under $100) and get into this hobby. It's fun and the final product is quite simply better than you can find anywhere.