Salsiccia Secca

by Paula Marcoux

These proportions furnish an annual sausage supply for Laurie and Lisa’s extended family, as well as a heaping helping for anyone lucky enough to get drafted into grinding or stuffing for the weekend. The recipe can be halved or quartered (or doubled!) as desired.

You’ll want to use a worm-drive meat grinder, either hand-crank or electric. Some mixers, KitchenAid for example, can support attachments suitable for both grinding and stuffing sausage. The curing salt is available online. Hog casings are too, but check your local butcher shop, especially if it caters to Italian or Portuguese home cooks. If you buy too many, they keep forever in the fridge or freezer, and are great for making fresh sausage, too, of course.

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  • 100 pounds boneless pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 2 cups Morton’s kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup finely ground black pepper
  • 1/3-1/2 cup ground fennel seed
  • 1/4 cup cayenne pepper
  • 3 oz Prague powder #2 (also known as pink curing salt #2)
  • natural hog casings (figure 12 feet of casings for every 5 pounds of meat)

Day 1

Trim the pork of all sinew and much of the fat. The Calderones end up with 70 pounds of meat after this process. “We like our sausage pretty lean,” says Lisa.

Cut the meat into small cubes and run through the grinder.

Add the salts and spices, and mix very well together.

Allow to season overnight, uncovered, in a refrigerator.

Day 2

Use the grinder (without grinding plates this time) to stuff the sausages. Slip a few fathoms of casing over the sausage-filling nozzle. Tie a knot at the end, and fill the casings. Try not to leave air cavities, but remember that you will be tying them in links, so leave the tiniest amount of wiggle room so that they won’t burst when they are constricted every 5 inches or so.

Use fine twine to tie in links, them hang them, not touching each other, in a cool dry place for 2 weeks. The ideal is 60 degrees F with 60–70% humidity. The sausages should exhibit uniform texture and color when ready.

Pack in jars, and pour over vegetable oil to completely submerge. Store in a cool, dark spot.

Paula Marcoux teaches hearth-cooking, wood-fired baking, and food history at PlymouthCRAFT.org.

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