My Grandmother, Mary Rose (Cincotta) Cafarella (center) with Uncle Joe in her lap,(I assume) Aunt Jennie (Cincotta) Vasquez, Possibly Onofrio Vasquez or one of the Cafarella brothers on right. This could be on Summer Street in Malden or in Hyde Park Ma.. Notice the silvery sheen at the top of the photo. This is a silver print. This is an indication of how fleeting these images are. It is a good idea to scan all the old photos you have to preserve them. Put them of several kinds of media to insure their survival, including new prints. Send family things to me to be posted in family blogs.
I use the word sausage alone, because I just do not have the time or energy to make the sausage links. It is not terribly difficult to do; it is just not something I have time for. Basically, you have to find and buy hog's or artificial intestines(perhaps others are available), soak the real one in salt water, rinse a couple of times by holding the end open over a faucet, so the inside basically inflates with the water. If there is a hole anywhere, you just cut the casing there so that you do not have sausage meat coming out that hole. Then you have two pieces of casing instead of one...no great tragedy. When all is rinsed and soaked, you just slide the end of the casing over a sausage stuffer or stuffing attachment on your mixer, till it is all on the funnel, like a knit sleeve pushed up on your arm. Then pull out a couple of inches of the casing, and start the stuffing. Do not over fill. After you have some meat in the casing, tie off the end by just knotting it, or tie it with cotton string or thread(COTTON!).
Continue stuffing till you get to the end of the casing or you run out of stuffing. Force the remaining meat out of the stuffer by using a couple of slices of bread in the grinder till all the meat is out.
You can tie the spaces you want between links with the string, or just give the casing a twist to separate them.
Do not get artificial casings wet.
Use only the freshest of the fresh meats. If you want the sausage to hang around for a day or two in the refrigerator, it cannot be infected by anything...Fresh!...Clean!...Clean Bowls!...Clean work surfaces!...Unblemished Vegetables!...Boil anything you plan to have touch the meat! Scrub your hands or wear gloves.
Ground meats are not known for stability. Do not allow ground meats to hang around unless it is frozen, or you really know how to keep everything CLEAN!!!!!!
This is the only great warning!
With any meat, or any food for that matter, the more cut surfaces on the meat, the more opportunities to be contaminated. Ground meats can be very contaminated. It is always better to buy a large block of meat, and grind it yourself with extremely clean machinery, implements and surfaces.
Here is your opportunity to adjust your intake of fat, salt etc.. Breakfast foods are so often just horrible for you. All that salt and fat are just waiting for you...attack that heart...attack those vessels send that blood pressure through the roof. Here, too, is an opportunity to add fiber, by just mixing in some of the dietary fiber powders available on supermarket shelves.
1 lb ground pork
2 Tablespoons of bells stuffing seasoning or fresh, finely pulverized Sage from the garden. Use twice as much fresh.
3 teaspoons of salt
3 teaspoons of freshly ground pepper.
Mix all together.
Take out about 1 teaspoon of the mix. Fry in a small pan and taste.
Optional other seasonings:
Thyme, Rosemary, brown sugar, maple sugar, Cayenne, Paprika, Red Pepper flakes, Nutmeg, Cloves, powdered Bay Leaves. Use any or all of these in breakfast sausage. Make your own favorite blend by trial and error. You will not ruin the sausage by trials with any of these.
When you have made the sausage a few times, you will have a better handle on how much salt and pepper to use, as sage will vary in strength depending on how old it is, you will get to know how much will be necessary by the smell of the uncooked meat.
Store overnight in the refrigerator in a container that fills right to the top with the meat. Do not allow a lot of air in the container or press plastic wrap on to the surface of the meat to exclude air. Make patties and fry as usual. You will not have very much fat in the sausage, so you may have to oil your cooking vessel.
You may cook the sausage immediately if you like, it just blends flavors more if stored overnight.
Make sure that the storage container is VERY CLEAN too.
You can put all kinds of things in Italian sausage, as long as it is Italian. So lets try a basic recipe and see what we can add to it.
Start with 2 pounds of Pork Butt or two pounds of ground pork.
With the Pork Butt, chop up in 1/2-1/4 inch pieces, then grind or place in food processor to grind in small batches. Pulse a few times only and do not make a paste out of the meat.
1. Mix in 2 teaspoons of fennel seed or anise seed. Toast it in a dry frying pan if desired. This will increase the flavor of the seed.
2. Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt or 2-2 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt or sea salt. Sea salt would be typical of the islands.
3. Add 1-2 teaspoons of black pepper.
Stir all together thoroughly, and fry a teaspoon of the meat mixture in a small frying pan to taste.
Stuff into casings or form into sausage shapes to fry.
Like cookie dough, roll a quantity of meat in waxed paper and form a long cylinder. Freeze for a couple of hours and slice to fry as patties.
Additions and combinations: always include salt unless the ingredients are already heavily salted.
A. Sicilian/Aeolian 2 see other posts for 1
Sun dried tomatoes in oil(minced), chopped bitter greens of your choice, Pecorino, parsley, fennel seed, black pepper, pepperoncino (chopped), white wine. In the islands, this sausage is quite delicate, with just specks of the seasonings in it. The recipes from Sicily tend to be very heavily seasoned with lots of the greens and tomato.
B. Fennel, pepper and red pepper flakes.
C. Fennel and cayenne or paprika.
D. Pecorino Romano,freshly mashed garlic and white wine.
E. Black pepper and powdered bay leaves.
F. Fresh tomato finely chopped(seeds removed), Capers, Parsley(black or green olives).
G. Roasted red and green peppers chopped into 1/4 in pieces, mashed garlic, Pecorino.
H. Ground cooked mushrooms, oregano and mashed garlic. (or sage instead of the oregano) (minced onions can also be included).
I. Pistachio, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, chestnuts. Leave in pieces about the same size as the pine nuts. Don't make them so small that their character disappears, salt and pepper. Try raisins or other dried fruit with the nuts, minced into the meat. You might try a splash of sherry or spirits.
K. Curry and apples or pears(Minced)
L. Black olives
M. Cooked chopped mushrooms, nuts(like Pistachio) and white wine. Oregano or Nepitella would season this well.
Make your own combinations based on your family's favorite flavors.
In all cases, start with conservative amounts and fry to taste.
You can buy Curing Salt to make your sausage. This will affect the color of the meat, but you can wrap your sausage and refrigerate it for about a week max or less. It will look like the meat in a hot dog. Again...CLEAN!!!!
Sodium Nitrate is the difference.
One more warning. When doing sausages in general, texture can make or break the product. I have made the Aeolian Style sausage a number of times. I have had to work at the texture. The ingredients are just the same, but you have to be careful of the size of the additions to the meat. Make sure that the greens and tomatoes are roughly the same size or grind as the meat. It will taste OK, but if you get large pieces of the greens mixed into a finely ground meat, it will seem odd to eat. If you have found roughly chopped meat for your sausage, you might get away with coarser bits of greens as well. If you are grinding your own meat, it might be a good idea to grind the other ingredients along with the meat to get a similar texture.
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