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. . . the fennel. This is the spice that "makes" it Italian sausage! The "Old World" recipe was way too light on this, also.

Doc, our next door neighbor in New Jersey was Italian and most of the sausage that he made back in the 50s was fairly light on the fennel. There is still a fairly large number of people of Italian decent in Ocean County, N.J. (the mob used to burry the bodies around Lakewood). When I went back there last spring for oldest grandson’s graduation from Penn, I stopped in at the “Pathmark Supermarket” in Toms River for some sausage (I was elected to cook that night at the “beach house”) and discovered two piles of “Italian Sausage” packages, one labeled “With Fennel” and the other labeled “Without Fennel”. I, of course, picked a package each of “hot” and “sweet” from the piles labeled “With Fennel”.

The taste of the fennel, as with most herbs & spices, depends among other factors upon its age and storage history. The amount that was in the Pathmark sausage was about the same as what was in my original recipe but, because the herb was fresh, it had a fairly strong taste, IMHO.

You need to add enough salt to give about 1.5 to 2% salt. That means 15 to 20 grams salt per kilo. Translating that to tsp/lb measurements gives about 1.5 to 2 tsp per pound.

I’ll agree that it’s a little light on salt for most people’s taste, Doc, but, especially if its going to be used in other recipes, its much easier to add salt to a dish at the table than remove it once its been added. ;-)
FWIW, Kytek Kuntas’s recipe in the book “Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing” for 10-pounds of fresh sweet Italian sausage calls for 5 tbsp. salt, 1 lb ice water, 3 tsp. fennel seed, 2 tsp coarse black pepper, 1 tbsp. sugar and 10 lbs. boned pork butts. For my taste, I usually reduce the salt in his recipes by about a third.

For his med-hot Italian sausage, he specifies “cracked fennel seed”, and adds “3 tsp. crushed hot peppers, 1 tsp caraway seeds, and 1 tbsp coriander“ (he don’t tell you what kind of “hot peppers” or if the coriander is whole seed, crushed or powdered, no).

C.J.V. - believes dat a recipe be only a guide dat you modifies to your own taste, me
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