One of our favorite family holiday traditions is to get together for our annual Italian sausage-making party. It is a big family project that includes my husband and children, plus my mom, sister, and my brother’s family. We make enough for each family to take some home, along with a few bags for the college kids for their apartments. We have a fish course on Christmas Eve but we also have Italian sausage later in the evening. Scroll down for the instructions for making the sausage, along with my mother’s delicious recipe for sausage cooked with potatoes, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. You will need a KitchenAid mixer plus the meat grinder and sausage making attachments in order to make this recipe.
This year we had roughly 45 lbs. of boneless pork butt that yielded 36-37 lbs. of seasoned sausage. It gives us enough sausage to last at least 6 months. We buy the boneless pork butt in roughly 15 lb. packages. They are fairly fatty and you have to remove some of the fat and gristle in order for the pork to grind smoothly into sausage. Leave some fat to keep the meat moist and flavorful. Every pork butt contains a different amount of fat, but I think you can estimate that 15-16 lbs. of boneless pork butt will yield roughly 12-13 lbs. of ground pork sausage. We stuff some sausage into casing and some we leave loose. The meat department of the grocery store should have sausage casing. If you are stuffing the ground pork into sausage casing, you need to have more moisture in the meat. Add 1 cup of water to every 5 lbs. of ground pork sausage meat, mixing well before stuffing into the casing. (If you are leaving the sausage out of the casing, you do not need to add the water.)
15 lbs. boneless pork butt
1/4-1/3 lb. fresh sausage casing
1 c. water for every 5 lbs. ground sausage – if stuffing into casing
Seasoning (per pound of ground pork sausage meat)
1 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
1 Tbsp. freshly ground fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
light sprinkle of sweet paprika
Begin by trimming the sausage of some of its fat and remove the tough gristle. Cut into large stew meat-sized pieces. Once all the meat has been cut, attach the large-hole meat grinding attachment to the KitchenAid mixer. Place a large bowl below the grinder to catch the meat. Turn the machine on medium high and feed the cut pork pieces down into the grinder attachment, pushing down with a wooden peg. Once all the meat is ground, lay out pieces of parchment paper on a table or work surface. Measure the ground pork into 1 lb. portions using a kitchen scale and place on the parchment paper. Flatten out each 1 lb. portion of ground pork. Sprinkle each one-pound portion with the salt, pepper, and spices. Mix the meat with your hands to evenly distribute the spices into the meat. Repeat until all the meat is seasoned and well mixed. At this point you can place loose sausage in one-pound portions into quart-size freezer bags, or take a 5 lb. portion of spiced ground pork and mix 1 cup of water into the meat in preparation for stuffing the casing. To stuff sausage: Take the casing and open it up. Run cool water through the casing to clean and moisturize it. Attach the sausage funnel attachment to the KitchenAid mixer. Tie a knot in the end of the casing and then ease it up onto the sausage funnel. Turn the machine on medium and gently push the meat down the funnel to fill the casing, stopping the machine every eight inches to twist the casing into individual links. Continue until all the loose sausage meat is stuffed into the casing. Place sausage links onto baking sheets and freeze. Remove from freezer and cut the individual links. Keep frozen until ready to cook. Makes 13 lbs. fresh Italian sausage.
Pork being ground, measured and seasoned
Italian Sausage with Potatoes, Peppers, Onions, and Mushrooms
1 to 1-1/2 lbs. sweet Italian sausage links
3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 (8 oz.) pkg. button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Place sausage links in a sauté pan but DO NOT prick them. Add enough water to come half way up the sausage. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and gently simmer for 20-25 minutes until sausage is cooked through. Remove sausage from pan and drain all of the liquid. While the sausage is simmering, cook the potatoes by mixing them in a large bowl with a good drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of onion powder and garlic powder. Mix. Place the potatoes in a glass pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 8 minutes, then stir the potatoes. Cover again and cook them another 7 minutes until fork tender. Add 3-4 Tablespoons of oil to the previously used pan. Brown the sausage for 5 minutes and turn to continue browning. Remove the sausage and add a bit more oil. Add onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook 8-10 minutes until the peppers are tender. Add the cooked potatoes. Slice the sausage and return to the pan with the vegetables. Taste and see if you need any more salt and pepper. Saute 3-4 minutes. Place sausage and vegetables onto a serving platter. Serves 4-6.
Note: For Christmas Eve, since there are more than 12 people, we will cook 3 lbs. of Italian sausage, adding 3 bell peppers (red, yellow, and orange), 6 potatoes, one very large onion, and an 8-ounce package of mushrooms.