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Growing up in the Butcher Shop:  Sausage with Fennel or Without | Salsiccia con Finocchio o Senza

 Ciao Amici,   

     Growing up in the butcher shop there was always discussions concerning fennel in the sausage. To fennel or not to fennel that was the question. For the most part my Grandparent’s customers and most of mine today from Roseto do not use fennel, only salt and pepper. A customer told me the fennel over powers the Sunday Gravy.

     In the United States, Italian salsicca  [Italian sausage ], to my surprise has fennel seed in it. The only other ingredient to make it spicier is dry red pepper flakes. In Italy, the sausage peddler was a familiar character in Italian towns. There was also much more of a variety of sausage and many are quite different. One example is a recipe that my Grandfather received  from relatives in Philadelphia called Abruzzese Sausage. The ingredients are pork shoulder, pork liver, garlic, orange rind and red pepper flakes. This sausage was then tied and hung for two days for the flavors to marry. At one time most sausage was tied because it was to be dried or smoked. We had a customer  from Italy who never saw rope sausage only tied sausage who asked doesn’t all the meat come out when you cook it? Which we all know does not happen. I would say for the most part it depends what part of Italy you are from as to what seasoning you use.

     When my Dad had the butcher shop, one of his customers, a Sicilian friend from Queens who had retired and moved to Martins Creek, had a request. Perhaps many of you may recall him, Diego Sansone. He said to my Dad, “Grind twenty five lbs. of pork and add the normal amount salt & pepper, fennel and hot pepper flakes and when I get there I will have our secret ingredient”. As he arrived out came the fifth of V.O Whiskey. “Okay Marty, pour the entire bottle in with the sausage and mix it.” Then into the sausage press and into the casings. This sausage was then tied and hung for five days before cooking. My dad said to Diego, “I hope it does not explode in the oven!”


"Il canile di Il cane non è il luogo dove tiene una salsiccia"

 Proverbio danese

"The dog's kennel is not the place to keep a sausage"

 Danish Proverb


Con cordiali saluti,


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