Sausage is one of those things that most people would rather not know how to make. Unless you are like me, and won’t eat it unless you know EXACTLY how it is made.

When I first married into an Italian Catholic family, I thought it was downright weird that they would wait to go to church at midnight, Christmas Eve ,so that they could come home in the middle of the night and eat sausage. (I grew up with the tradition that you sleep through the night and wake up early and have sausage for breakfast.) I am sure I don’t understand the nuances of Catholicism and never will ... but I do understand that sausage — especially Italian sausage — is delicious. So this is where the Catholics and the Pagans unite.

Fortunately, Mrs. Cinquino was willing to share her father’s sausage recipe with her Pagan daughter-in-law. And now I’m going to share it with you ... perhaps slightly altered (for instance, I don’t stuff it into pig intestines — I just make it into patties). It’s really pretty easy, and this is a giant vat of a recipe that makes enough to freeze for all winter (just make it into patties and put it in Ziploc bags and freeze). The original recipe calls for 24 pounds of meat! This one only calls for 7 pounds. If you want to make it smaller, I’m sorry, but you’ll either have to do the math yourself or call my kids.

This recipe is for HOT Italian sausage. If you want it “sweet,” just remove the pepper and cayenne.

Hot Italian sausage


5 lbs. fresh organic ground pork
2 lbs. fresh organic ground beef
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons fennel seed (or 1 Tablespoon seed and a handful of chopped fresh fennel greens)
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 cup Romano cheese


1: Put all these ingredients into a giant bowl and mix with your hands until everything’s all mixed together.

2: Cook or freeze!

This is great served in a bun like a burger (with roasted and fried green peppers!), crumbled up and cooked in tomato sauce for any Italian delicacies like spaghetti, pizza or lasagna or however you want to use sausage.

This article was reprinted with permission. For more from Maria Rodale, go to