Our Favorite Classic Italian Sausage Recipe

If you’re coming into the kitchen as the weather gets colder (like we are), here’s our favorite go-to recipe for Italian sausage. This classic by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn in their book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing never disappoints. Chris just made a big batch in bulk form this weekend, and all winter it will go into burgers, get mixed with veggies, and be added to hot dishes. If you add a little maple syrup on top, it’s mild enough to make a decent breakfast sausage substitute.


4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, diced into 1# cubes
1 pound pork back fat, diced into 1″ cubes
1.5 ounces kosher salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (also works well with xylitol if you can’t do sugar)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sweet Spanish paprika
3/4 cup ice water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, chilled

  • Combine all ingredients except the water and vinegar and toss to distribute the seasonings. Chill until ready to grind.
  • Grind the mixture through the small die into a bowl set in ice.
  • Add the water and vinegar to the meat mixture and mix with the paddle attachment (or a sturdy spoon) until the liquids are incorporated and the mixture has developed a uniform, stocky appearance, about 1 minute on medium speed.
  • Saute a small portion of the sausage, taste, and adjust the seasonings as necessary.

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