Good Italian sausage links are versatile and handy to have in your freezer. You can slow simmer them in sauce, slice them for a pizza topping, grill them like brats, add them to casseroles and soups, use them with pasta or any number of other dishes. We like to make our Italian sausage links with venison. Like our Texas Hot Links and Brats, we prefer a 50/50 blend of venison to pork butt or shoulder for the texture, but blend yours however you like. The higher the percentage of venison, the drier the finished sausage will be.
Just like our other sausages, we grind this one through the 1/4-inch plate on our Magic Chef meat grinder, then mix in the seasonings thoroughly. Once you have everything mixed, you can use the sausage in bulk form, make patties from it, or stuff it into hog casings (check out our hog casing prep on our Cheese Steak Brat recipe).
The colder everything is, the better the grind will be. That goes for any time you're grinding meat. Place your cubed venison and pork on a sheet pan in the freezer for 20 minutes or so before grinding. You can also store the tube, auger and other metal grinder parts in the freezer for a half hour or so before grinding.
2 1/2 pounds pork butt, cut small enough to fit your grinder
2 1/2 pounds venison, cut small enough to fit grinder
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup ice water
4-6 feet Rinsed pork casings
Start by grinding the chilled venison and pork at an even rate. Once the meat has been ground, add the spices. I like to blend all spices and seasonings in a bowl, then sprinkle them evenly over the ground meat. Add the ice water, and mix the sausage by hand until everything is well blended.
Form a small test patty from some of the blended sausage, and fry it up to sample the taste. If it's seasoned to your liking, go ahead and stuff the sausage into casings, twist into links, and vacuum seal for long-term storage in the freezer.
Try grilling your Italian sausage or browning it in a pan, then simmering it in tomato sauce to serve over pasta.
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