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Homemade Luganega Sausages

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Sausages have always played a big role in Italian-American cuisine, mostly because they were an easy way for Italian immigrants to duplicate and recapture the flvors of home. In American they found plenty of meat, so sausages were (and are) made continuously--no only during slaughter time, as in the old country.

NotesIf you intend to dry these sausages, make sure they are kept in a well-ventilated, cool (35- to 42-degree) place. They will be ready to eat about 2 months from the time you hang them.

You can vary the spices in this recipe to make different-tasting sausages. For example, in the north of Italy cinnamon is added, while in the south and here in the States, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper or pieces of dried tomatoes, and sometimes cubes of caciocavallo (semi-fresh cheese) flavor the sausages. As with all fillings, it is a good idea to cook a little bit of the meat mixture before stuffing the casings. Taste the cooked sample piece of sausage and adjust the seasoning to your liking if necessary.

The pork you choose for sausage making should have a ration of fat to lean tht is about 1:5. In other words, if you are making a full recipe of sausage, use about  1 pound fat to 5 pounds of lean pork.

Makes6 pounds (about 40 links; quantities can be cut in half)

CostModerate

Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Occasiongame day

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Textureherby, meaty, spiced

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 6 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 pounds pork butt (see note), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Sausage casing (preferably ½-inch in diameter and all in one piece)

Instructions

  1. Pour the wine over the bay leaves in a small bowl. Whack the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and toss them into the bowl. Let steep at room temperature for about 2 hours.

  2. Grind the pork directly into a bowl, using a disc with holes about 3 1/6 inch in diameter. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and allspice over the meat. Fish the garlic and bay leaves out of the wine, wrap them in cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel, and dunk the package in the wine. Squeeze the cheesecloth package over the meat in the bowl. Repeat until you have used up the remaining wine. The flavor of the garlic and bay leaves should permeate the meat. Toss every thing together thoroughly. Cover the bowl and let rest in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.

  3. Meanwhile, push about 1 inch or so of one end of the casing over the spout of the faucet of your sink, making sure that the rest of the casing is in the sink. Run cold water slowly through the casing for a minute or two. Repeat if you are using more than one piece of casing.

  4. Remove the casing from the spout and fill with marinated pork following the manufacturer’s directions that come with your sausage stuffer. Twist the sausage into 3½-inch links as you go.

  5. VARIATION

  6. Italian-American Fennel Sausage

  7. Choose wider sausage casings--about 1 1/2 inches in diameter--for these sausages. Prepare the sausage mixture as above, omitting the allspice ans adding 1 tablespoon fennel seeds and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (makes about 18 links).

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