Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hot Stuff

When I was a little kid, my Uncle Gilbert used to occasionally make pork sausages in his basement.  Sausage production was a real event; it took several people to feed the ingredients into the grinder, make sure the casing didn't prematurely detach from the stuffing nozzle, and tie off the individual links as the forcemeat filled the casing almost to the bursting point.  I've never really understood that saying about laws being like sausage in that "it is better not to see them being made" - when I was six or seven, watching Uncle Gil and his sausage crew in action was my idea of a good time.

Since I started cutting the fat in my diet I've almost stopped eating pork sausage.  Generally I substitute Jenny-O's Italian-flavored ground turkey in spaghetti sauce, breakfast casseroles, etc.  However, their Italian flavoring is similar to that in sweet Italian sausage, and every once in a while I want hot Italian sausage instead.  Today I was in the mood for scrambled eggs with hot sausage, so I took some plain unflavored ground chicken and kicked it up a notch.  If you don't like your sausage quite this hot, cut back on the pepper or add more ground chicken.

Hot Italian-Flavored Chicken Sausage

3/4 lb unflavored ground chicken (or turkey)
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (preferably toasted*)
1 Tbl finely chopped garlic
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbl chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)

*To toast the fennel seeds, heat them over medium low heat in a non-stick pan, shaking frequently, until they become fragrant and just start to brown.

Mix the ingredients thoroughly until the herbs and spices are evenly distributed throughout the ground chicken.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so the flavors have a chance to blend.  Use as you would any bulk sausage - or, if you want pseudo-links, wrap individual "sausages" tightly in plastic wrap and poach them in boiling water.

"I used to help my granddaddy make sausage. He would mix it up in a cleaned-out washtub with his hands, no gloves. Man, if we did anything like that today, they would jack the jail up and throw us under it. " ~Jimmy Dean

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