Sicilian Sausage with Fennel Seed

We got inspired by’s impressive array of recipes and had better-than-expected results with the first two attempts. We particularly liked the Sicilian one with the hint of nutmeg and lemon zest contrasting nicely with the underlying tangy bitterness from the red wine. But it distinctly lacked fennel, and also seemed unnecessarily salty (perhaps owing to the real Romano cheese we used this time instead of faking it with Grana Padano, like we usually do).

While whipping up another batch this morning, Sarah hit upon the idea of throwing in some fennel, too. Here’s our recipe, adapted from and scaled down.

1.9kg (4 lbs, 3 oz) pork shoulder (including skin and fat; discard the skin, but keep the fat)
1 1/3 cups grated Romano cheese
2/3 (158 ml) cups cold red wine
1 big clove of garlic, minced (a medium-sized clove is probably plenty for normal people)
1 tbsp salt — maybe even just 2 tsp
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp dried nutmeg or 1/2 tsp freshly grated (love my Microplane nutmeg grater!)
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 tbsp whole fennel seed

Get your butcher to separate the skin from your pork shoulder, but make sure to retain the fat!. Ask for a coarse grind, or take it home and skin it and grind it yourself if your butcher won’t do it for you (for whatever reason…and then seek out a new (old!) butcher).

Keep everything as cold as possible: the bowl, the meat, and the utensils you will use to mix the ingredients. You might find it helpful to mix all the dry ingredients and lemon zest together first in small bowl and then introduce that into the cold pork mass. Really mix it in there well: an uneven distribution means some diners get flavor bursts and others are bored. Fry up a golf-ball-sized lump to check for taste.

Then, make patties or fill up your hog casing, grill or fry, and enjoy. We knew in advance what shape of bread we’d serve them with, so we sized the links accordingly. For 13 adults, these 15 links were just barely enough. Next time we plan to make a little extra to freeze for later, too.