I love Italian sausage. It adds so much flavour to simple meals without a large amount of work. The only thing I haven’t loved about it in the past is the excessive amount of fat in the meat, and knowing it was full of things that I probably didn’t actually want to eat. But, now that I’ve started making my own what’s not to love?
Like so many other things, when you make your own sausage at home it’s not only cheaper but healthier, since you can make it lighter and without preservatives or unnecessary additives. This recipe is just ground pork (we use lean), spices, herbs and a little vinegar. Mix up a big batch, divide it into the serving sizes you want and freeze.
You can adjust the seasonings to your hearts content. Add less pepper flakes to cut back on the spiciness. Add more maple syrup for a sweeter flavour. For those on a low salt diet you can fiddle with that amount too. You can even swap ground turkey for the pork if that’s your thing. This is why I love making things from scratch. You get all the flavour while being able to manipulate it to suite your specific diet or taste buds. Win-win-win.
Homemade Italian Sausage
As written this is a spicy Italian sausage. Cut back on the red pepper flakes for less spice.
3 pounds ground pork (we used lean)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together until evenly combined. Divide equally into desired amounts (I divide mine into 1/2 pound packages since we hardly ever use a full pound in one recipe). Wrap each in plastic wrap and place in a large ziptop plastic bag. Freeze or place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before using (to meld flavours).
Nothing is more frustrating to me then wasting food. Whether it be because I burnt something, forgot about it in the back of my fridge, made something less then stellar, or simply bought too much of it. Whatever the case, I hate to throw away food.
One of those foods that seems to always go bad before it”s eaten in our house is bread. One of my largest hinderances to baking fresh bread is knowing that it will probably go stale before we are even halfway through it. And, since I don”t like anything to be a hinderance to me in the kitchen, I got to work figuring out ways to use it up without having to gag on the dryness.
Two of my favourite ways to use up those bread scraps are to make homemade croutons and breadcrumbs. Not only does it save us money, but since they are things that we use on a regular basis, it”s nice to know that they are much healthier being made at home. Not to mention extremely easy.
Below are instruction on how to make both croutons and breadcrumbs as well as recipes for Parmesan Garlic Croutons and Italian Breadcrumbs. Here are a few tips on how to go about it.
Do not use already stale bread. If you don”t like to eat stale sandwiches you won”t want to eat stale croutons either.
If you find yourself with lot”s of little scraps that don”t seem worth the effort to turn into something else, freeze them. Once you have a larger collection, pull them out and get to work.
If you do freeze your bread, this will probably mean you have a variety of breads stored away. The combination of breads will add a more complex flavour as well as some pizzaz to both the croutons and the breadcrumbs.
If there is any moisture in either the breadcrumbs or the croutons, they will not be able to store at room temperature without going mouldy. If you would like, you can store them in the freezer. If they regain any moisture, simply give them a short toast to perk them up.
To make croutons: cube some bread, toss it with oil and herbs, and bake at 375ºF until golden and crisp (15-20 min).
If you use only olive oil and no other perishable ingredients you can store these sealed at room temperature.
If you use butter in place of oil, or fresh herbs or garlic, you must store the croutons in the freezer.
In order to achieve the crispy breadcrumbs you purchase at the store, you will want your bread to be completely dried out and toasted. To do this, place slices of bread on a baking sheet, in a single layer, and bake at 300ºF for 10-15 min. until dry, flipping halfway through cooking time.
If your bread is already quite dry and you are only making a small amount you can rather toast it in the toaster until dry.
Once the bread is toasted, allow it to cool completely and then chop it roughly and place it in a food processor. Process until fine crumbs are created.
If you are not able to achieve fine crumbs then the bread still has too much moisture. Place the crumbs onto a baking sheet and bake again until completely dry.
Always allow to cool so that no moisture can build up, then process again until you are able to achieve the texture of crumbs that is desired.