Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweet Italian Sausage and Spaghetti Bolognese

Years ago I began making my spaghetti sauce with ground beef because, like most daughters, that's what my mother did and my cooking roots came from her. It wasn't until I got married that I explored other things in making my spaghetti sauce. For example, I threw in mushrooms and zucchini lots of times and per my husband's request started using Italian sausage. I found out that I really loved sausage in my spaghetti sauce and that I much preferred it over ground beef. One thing that I didn't like about sausage though, was that if you're not careful about what kind you buy, you can get some pretty gristly stuff that's not too appetizing. Finally, I got to the point where I didn't even want to buy pre-packaged sausage and started searching for a recipe that I could easily make at home with the knowledge of every single ingredient that went into it.

In my search, I found this breakfast sausage blend that we really love and enjoy but I didn't think the flavor combination was quite right for a big bowl of Italian-style spaghetti. Then I came across this Italian blend and as soon as I saw the list of ingredients, I knew I was going to love it! And love it we did. My girls, however, didn't like the big fennel seeds in it so next time, I might try grinding them a little bit before I add them. This is a very flavorful sausage, so whatever you pair it with, I would make sure it is very lightly seasoned.

Sweet Italian Sausage
5 lbs ground meat (chicken, beef or pork or a combination)
40 grams kosher salt
35 grams sugar
20 grams toasted fennel seeds
6 grams cracked black pepper
4 grams ground nutmeg
1 cup minced fresh parsley
1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
1 cup dry sherry (I used sherry cooking wine)

Mix all the spices together then add it to your meat. Using the paddle attachment to a stand mixer (or a stout wooden spoon, or your VERY clean hands), mix the sausage well. Add the sherry to the meat mixture. With a stand mixer set on level 1, let this go for 90 seconds. It might take a little longer with the spoon or hands. You want the mixture to get a little sticky and begin to bind to itself – it is a lot like what happens when you knead bread.

Now you have sausage. I like to portion mine out in to 1 lb. sections and freeze it. You could make 1 lb. blocks, links, patties, meatballs or whatever shape you want!

For the Bolognese sauce:
olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 quart crushed tomatoes (you could also use tomato sauce)
1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage

Drizzle olive oil into a large saucepan and add onion and sausage. Fry on medium-high heat until sausage is no longer pink. Add crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot over cooked spaghetti and shave fresh parmesan over the top.

SOURCE:Sausage recipe Adapted from Simply Recipes

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