Jump to content

Italian Sausage


Anna Blume
 Share

Recommended Posts

Thanks, Heather.

* * *

Now :DGRRRR!!!!!

B) : Calling on Al Dente:

Please tell the folk at Whole Foods who make the recipe for Italian pork sausage to MAKE AUTHENTIC ITALIAN SAUSAGE!!!!

As a short-cut, instead of making a special trip to Vace, I bought a single mild Italian sausage in Georgetown to make a fairly time-consuming, elaborate ragu that calls for chicken thighs, giblets, pancetta, 4 oz. ground beef and 4 oz. of mild Italian sausage without fennel.

I was a fool not to look at the sausage before it was wrapped, but I've purchased them pre-packaged before in other pinches and never had a problem. So, here I am meezing my place, I roll open the brown wrapper and the stuff is studded with BIG GREEN LEAVES OF PARSLEY :P:P little black specks of something that looks like it might be onion seed (not black pepper) :( , and TONS of fennel that has no business being in mild pork sausage (you order finocchio if you want finocchio in your sausage) :lol: . None of this stuff added for the set that spreads blueberry cream cheese on their cinnamon bagels and buys jars of $14 spaghetti sauce with brown paper tied over the cap with twine should be there.

The reason Marcella Hazan's books advised Americans to buy breakfast sausage for a number of recipes back in the 70s and 80s was because Italian-American sausage-makers made only two types of sausage and neither was what Italians would consider ordinary "sweet." Vace makes a plain sausage. I would have gotten breakfast sausage had I known.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to apologize for kvetching so melodramatically, but T Hersch, you're probably right.

The thing is, Vace doesn't include fennel. I just picked up a few things and even asked while making my purchase. The smell of mild sausage takes over the fridge unless you put into another container, but it's not herbal (? seedy?) at all.

What disturbed me more was seeing all those big blotches of whole parsley leaves. It took a while to pick all the green bits and as many seeds as I could out of the meat before adding it to my ragu. Ultimately, the flavor of the sauce was not affected.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing is, Vace doesn't include fennel. I just picked up a few things and even asked while making my purchase. The smell of mild sausage takes over the fridge unless you put into another container, but it's not herbal (? seedy?) at all.

I asked at Vace (Bethesda) today, and was told the only ingredients in the mild Italian sausage are pork, garlic, salt, and pepper. Boy do they have a lot of garlic, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's actually fairly safe to assume that anything labeled "Italian sausage" in a US supermarket will contain fennel seed. I always assume that.

Well, as a matter of fact, they shall contain fennel, apparently it's the law. From the FDA web site:

TITLE 9--ANIMALS AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS

CHAPTER III--FOOD SAFETY AND INSPECTION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF

AGRICULTURE

PART 319--DEFINITIONS AND STANDARDS OF IDENTITY OR COMPOSITION--Table of Contents

Subpart E--Sausage Generally: Fresh Sausage

Sec. 319.145 Italian sausage products.

(a) Italian sausage products are cured or uncured sausages

containing at least 85 percent meat, or combination of meat and fat,

with the total fat content constituting not more than 35 percent of the

finished product. Such products shall be prepared in accordance with the

provisions of paragraph (a) (1), (2) or (3) of this section, and shall

contain salt, pepper, and either fennel or anise, or a combination of

fennel and anise. Such products may contain any or all of the optional

ingredients listed in paragraph (B) of this section.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, as a matter of fact, they shall contain fennel, apparently it's the law. From the FDA web site:

TITLE 9--ANIMALS AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS

CHAPTER III--FOOD SAFETY AND INSPECTION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF

AGRICULTURE

PART 319--DEFINITIONS AND STANDARDS OF IDENTITY OR COMPOSITION--Table of Contents

Subpart E--Sausage Generally: Fresh Sausage

Sec. 319.145 Italian sausage products.

(a) Italian sausage products are cured or uncured sausages

containing at least 85 percent meat, or combination of meat and fat,

with the total fat content constituting not more than 35 percent of the

finished product. Such products shall be prepared in accordance with the

provisions of paragraph (a) (1), (2) or (3) of this section, and shall

contain salt, pepper, and either fennel or anise, or a combination of

fennel and anise. Such products may contain any or all of the optional

ingredients listed in paragraph ( :D of this section.

Does this mean Vace's is breaking the law? :P If so, I'm glad! I just made a ragu last night that called for Italian sausage and when I removed the meat from the casing, I saw no seeds.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can fend fennel and non-fennel Italian sausage at an amazing little Italian deli in the Triangle section of Wheaton called Marchones. They also make fresh Zeppoli pastries for St. Joseph's day, which is coming up mid-March. Ah, my little New England heart warms to them! I have never seen them before outside my native Rhode Island, which is crawling with Italian immigrants....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can fend fennel and non-fennel Italian sausage at an amazing little Italian deli in the Triangle section of Wheaton called Marchones. They also make fresh Zeppoli pastries for St. Joseph's day, which is coming up mid-March. Ah, my little New England heart warms to them! I have never seen them before outside my native Rhode Island, which is crawling with Italian immigrants....

for what its worth, we used to get zeppolis (and cannolis) for St. Joseph's day on Long Island.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FWIW, I didn't detect much if any fennel in the Whole Foods mild Italian sausages we bought the other day, but they were also so damned lean (and consequently feeble on flavor) that I didn't go in for seconds.

Pork in general has been entirely too lean in recent years; we've completely abandoned buying roasts and chops from supermarkets after a string of disappointments, instead heading to independent butchers who understand when you ask them for cuts with enough fat to still have flavor and texture.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FWIW, I didn't detect much if any fennel in the Whole Foods mild Italian sausages we bought the other day, but they were also so damned lean (and consequently feeble on flavor) that I didn't go in for seconds.

Pork in general has been entirely too lean in recent years; we've completely abandoned buying roasts and chops from supermarkets after a string of disappointments, instead heading to independent butchers who understand when you ask them for cuts with enough fat to still have flavor and texture.

How do you spell the sound you make when coughing to get attention?

You meant to add small family farms that sell at farmers' markets, too, right?

(Regarding WFM, the company always lists its ingredients and I believe I've seen a new recipe lately that omits fennel in the sweet version. Can't say for sure since I usually buy mine from farmers.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You meant to add small family farms that sell at farmers' markets, too, right?

Absolutely...these folks, after all, are the ones who have to decide how their next hogs will be fed. Encouraging them to raise them for taste (instead of for salability to buyers of very lean hogs) means opening your wallets to prefer their animals. The omission is mine.

(now onto a beef tangent:)

Maybe there's a lesson to be had from wagyu. It's been argued that the preposterous marbling of wagyu is a result of the Japanese spending hundreds of years breeding their cattle for deliciousness, instead of breeding for external conformance as was the tradition in the west.

A few weeks ago, a buddy of mine came over for movie night with three wagyu ribeyes from Balducci's. Even though they were probably of the more modest marbling grades, the quality of the fat was still incredible - practically crumbly when pinched, like suet. Cooked, the wagyu retained that gelatinous texture that makes it so unlike a conventional steak. Two of them I broke down into nibble-sized slices, very quickly seared on hot cast iron. The third, I tried slowly warming through on a wire rack in a very low oven, then quickly seared both faces before resting and serving. I was worried that it would shrink excessively, but the slow warming seemed to work okay.

And on one final tangent, the beef steaks in the case at WFM Kentlands were shockingly unmarbled...all of them. Signs everywhere proudly announced that it was grass-fed beef (from South America?), but even the ribeyes looked entirely too lean. I mean, seriously not what I look for in a steak. Very disappointing, especially since I used to get some decent pieces of meat there even though it's not one of the big new locations with in-house dry aging equipment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Firentina in Tuscany will ahve no marbling as it is grass fed beef from cattle that walk freely all their lives {at least the read deal Chianina beef}. Yet is is the best steak I have had. It is served blood rare {at Mario in Florence the sign giving the price of the Bistecca reads "La Fiorentina come Com'era" {if I recall correctly} which means the Fiorentina is as it comes. If you have 90 Euro and want to induce a food coma, go to Mario and have one of Dado's 3 inch thick specials.

It will weigh 1.9 kilo and he will charge you anywhere from 15 etti to 22 etti {un etto is 100 grams} depending on how deserving he thinks you are {the best we ever got on our own was 18 for steak weighing 19 on the nose.... the first time we were there our 19 kilo on the nose steak somehow grew to 2.2 on our bill. We did not think it a good idea to argue with a 6'3" chef with a 12" steak breaking knife and a cleaver the size of Delaware. When we got the bill, he had an entire loin on his shoulder, was smoking a cigarette and was drinking a glass of grappa, with a look of someone with nothing better to do than stand around with 100+# of steak on his shoulder. The 15 etti charge came when we dined with a Florentine regular. Again the steak was a perfect 1.9 kilo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've only had Chianina once, in Montepulciano (which is in the Val di Chiana, after all) and even then I knew a full-on Fiorentina would be too much, so the proprietor offered to butcher me an end cut of approx 6 etti. Seared quickly and nothing more. As lean as it is, any excess heat would only have toughened it.

It was delicious, but...clearly I need to get all the way up to Firenze!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...