Making your own Italian dry-cured sausage is an incrediblly rewarding experience, because you are in control. It may seem daunting, but with practice it can be done at home. Italian dry-cured sausage is not cooked. You control how much fat goes into your sausage, which makes homemade sausage by far healthier. Plus, you can experiment with the spices and make sausage better than anything you could buy. Italian dry-cured sausage is a favorite as an appetizer with wine, bread, and cheese for holiday parties or anytime.
Things You'll Need
Electric or manual meat grinder
Cold metal bowls
Prague No. 2 cure
Choose a dry-cured Italian sausage recipe, such as hot salami, coppa, finocchiona, soppresata or genoa salami, from the Resources below. Use garlic, wine, spices and hot chili peppers to make an Italian sausage. For a stronger Italian flavor in the sausage, use dried herbs.
Have all of your spices, cure, garlic, starter culture and herbs ready before grinding the meat. Grind all of your seasonings, except the salt and starter culture, in a coffee grinder.
Mix the fat in a cold metal bowl, using a meat grinder, and put it in the refrigerator. Grind the cold meat in a cold metal bowl.
Mix the fat, meat and other ingredients together in a cold metal bowl, using an electric hand mixer. Dissolve the starter culture with water and then mix it in with the meat to cure the sausage. Mix just until everything is blended together; do not mix the fat and meat too long. Put the meat back in the refrigerator.
Prepare the casing, depending on the casing and dry-cured Italian sausage recipe. Man-made casings often do not need any preparation. Natural casings need separation and to be soaked in water.
Stuff the meat into the casing. Put the end of the casing over the stuffing horn toward the sausage stuffer. Leave some of the casing hanging over the end of the horn and keep the casing wet throughout the process. Stuff the casing completely, but do not over-stuff it, or the casing will burst. To avoid getting air bubbles, pop air pockets with the tip of a knife so you won't get grease buildup.
Incubate or hang the sausage to dry it out. Allow the air and wild yeast and cultures to start the drying fermentation process at around 32 degrees C. Hold the sausage in the air for up to or longer than 35 days before eating. Make sure that white mold grows on the outside and that the water drips out of the sausage to avoid food poisoning. Keep the sausage cool, but it does not need refrigeration.
Wash your hands frequently between each step. Keep everything cold, and put the metal bowl of fat in the refrigerator while grinding the meat. Choose a casing for the sausage depending on the type of Italian sausage recipe. Reduce the fat in your sausage by adding chopped apples, raisins, mushrooms, or other moisture-rich veggies. Turn up the air conditioning full blast until the casings are dry. Age the Italian sausage in a cool, humid place to get a savory flavor.
Clean everything thoroughly to avoid food poisoning. Make sure the sausage stays cool, or bacteria will develop. Do not eat sausage if it develops brown spots or a hard exterior. Do not eat sausage if the mold is not on the outside, because then it is on the inside.