Sweet Italian Sausage

Today was one of those days when the weather just begged for a hearty soup to be made for dinner. It was grey, windy, a little snowy, and just downright icky outside. I came home from work and decided I was going to make Hubby’s favorite soup for dinner. I thought I had all of the ingredients on hand (a minor miracle, really – the particular soup I had in mind definitely calls for a lot!) and it would be a nice surprise for him to come home to. If dinner wasn’t already made, it would be well on its way.

The soup I had in mind is called Lasagna Soup. I had never heard of it before I met Hubby, and I was a little iffy about it the first time he made it for me. It has mushrooms! I hate mushrooms! At least that’s what I was thinking back then. I’m a little less put off by them now, but I’m still not a huge fan. But the main ingredient, and obviously most important, is sweet Italian sausage. The sausage gets browned in the bottom of the pan with a few other vegetables in the soup before the stock is added and all of that sweet, slightly spicy flavor is intensified and makes the soup absolutely delicious.

I opened the freezer and…no sausage. I did, however, have a pound of ground pork. I am nothing if not resourceful, so I turned to the internet and my trusty Alton Brown books and looked for a recipe for homemade sweet Italian sausage.

I was not disappointed. I found a wide selection of recipes online and one in my Good Eats 2 book. I picked the best looking recipe from the online selection, took out the things I didn’t like, added the good stuff from my main man Alton’s recipe and I think I came up with a darn good sweet Italian sausage. Both recipes called for ground fennel, which I just do not like. At all. So I decided to leave it out. One recipe only called for 1/8 teaspoon of brown sugar. How sweet can sweet Italian sausage be if it only has 1/8 teaspoon of sugar in a whole pound? Not sweet enough, for sure. And as much as I love Mr. Brown, I do not love fresh sage or rosemary, so I substituted fresh thyme. I haven’t used my sausage yet, but it smells amazing.

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Sweet Italian Sausage

Adapted from this recipe and Alton Brown’s recipe in Good Eats 2: The Middle Years

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together. I prefer to use my hands (I take off my rings to make it easier to clean afterwards – even if Hubby doesn’t like it), because I feel like I can get a better idea when everything is mixed this way. You can use a wooden spoon or spatula if you like. Just be sure everything is evenly combined.

If you use your hands to combine, try not to squeeze the mixture between your fingers. Instead fold the ingredients together as if you were kneading bread dough.

Once mixed, this can either be formed into 2-inch patties or left as bulk sausage. Cook as you would store bought patties or bulk sausage. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days or wrapped in butcher paper and foil and frozen for 3 months.