Tips for Buying Italian Sausages
Avoid buying sausages at very low prices. They are full of fat and made from all the leftover meat of the hog that cannot be used for anything else. These sausages are usually over spiced, salty and contain fillers to disguise the taste. The grinding is always very fine so to amalgamate the different parts and impurities of the meat. The coarser the grind the better must be the quality of the meat.
Buy fresh sausages only at reputable butchers that sell out the batch daily. I have seen the same tray in some shops for prolonged periods! I freeze mine as soon they are made and vacuum pack them right away. I reached this decision after weighing the pros and cons of selling them fresh. From my trials and tasting experiments I feel that the flavour is better in frozen sausages than the few-days-old fresh ones. I have tried as an experiment many months’ old frozen sausages that show no deterioration of taste.
Good Italian sausage contains only pork shoulder-butt meat, with virtually no spices; only salt, pepper, and sometimes a little wine. The Sicilian version contains fennel seeds. The shoulder butt contains just the right amount of fat, about 20%. With this quantity of fat, the grill will not flare up as much and provides better cooking conditions.
There is a remarkable difference in taste and texture between “commercial pork” and farm-raised heritage pork. I use heritage pork that is being fed a proper diet and provided with good living conditions. Commercial pork is very lean, flavourless and has no “bite”. Of course, the way these animals are raised — the hormones, antibiotics and the feed…there is enough information in the news.
Unfortunately, most of the sausages out there are made from commercial pork because there is an overproduction, bringing the cost down. Sadly, the bottom line usually wins. Sustainability, our health and animal welfare seems to be a concern of very few.
Tips for Cooking Angelo Bean Sausages
About 15 minutes is enough to cook good quality sausage. Any longer and it will dry up. I recommend low to medium heat, turning the sausages quarter turns to ensure even cooking.
Avoid puncturing the sausages. The more fat and juices retained the tastier and flavourful is the sausage. Let the sausage rest after cooking for a few minutes so the juices settle back in it.
Another fun way to cook sausage is to split open and flatten the sausage with the blade of a big knife. The sausage will curve in on the side of the skin while grilling. It looks great. Arrange on a platter with the meat exposed and casing down. Squeeze on them fresh lemon juice and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil. Hot pepper flakes, Pecorino cheese shavings, and a little chopped parsley would be a nice touch.
Fry slowly on low heat in a cast iron pan. The bonus of frying is that you can deglaze the pan with your favourite wine, spirit or beer.
Cooking them in the oven is probably the easiest method but I don’t recommend it as it tends to dry out the sausage. Putting water on the pan boils the sausage.
The ultimate way of cooking sausages is on the BBQ using well-aged hardwood. I am not a fan of aromatic wood smoke as I want to highlight the quality of the meat flavours.