A sausage is a sausage, right? Try to order plain sausage at a meat market and you’ll be in for a surprise due to the many varieties available. Almost all sausage has the same basic formula. You take ground meat combined with fat, flavoring, and preservatives, then stuff it in casings made from a variety of things such as artificial products, natural ones, and even stomachs. The stuffed casings are then twisted in intervals to make links. Pork is the most common type of meat used, but sausages are also made with beef, lamb, veal, turkey, chicken, or game. Sometimes fillers such as rice or oatmeal are also used.
What is Italian Sausage?
What about Italian Sausage? This will also leave you with a variety of choices if going to a meat market. There are many types of Italian sausage. The main difference in Italian sausage when compared to other sausages is the seasoning. The particular ingredient that usually sets Italian sausage apart is fennel. This is a licorice scented herb that gives Italian sausage its unique taste that is different than other types of sausage.
Italian Sausage Flavors
The type of Italian sausage most people are familiar with is the kind that is served on pizza and added to pasta sauces. This is produced with and without the casing. Typically the casing is removed for cooking with this type of sausage. This variety usually comes in sweet, hot, and mild. The sweet is usually seasoned with sweet basil and the hot is seasoned with chili peppers.
Types of Italian Sausage
There are many other types of Italian sausage, such as:
- Salamella: This sausage is made with pork, veal, lard, spices, and wine. It is smoked to prevent mold and then inserted into a natural casing for aging.
- Mortadella: This is a large sausage similar to the texture and flavor of bologna. It is often processed with pistachios, jalapenos, or olives.
- Sopressato: This sausage is made from pork or beef. It is is made in uncured form or cured in olive oil. The uncured form hangs to dry for 3-12 weeks and is eaten with crackers, or on sandwiches.
- ‘Nduja: This is a pork sausage that has an exclusive taste that comes from being spiced with roasted red peppers. This sausage is unique because it is spreadable. It is served with bread, cheese, or added to pasta sauces.
- Salami: This is a cured sausage that is fermented and air dried. This particular sausage can be stored at room temperature for up to ten years. Salami comes in many varieties that include pepperoni.
Enjoying Italian Sausage
Now that your sausage knowledge has been developed, you could start to develop your palate for all the different flavors. Next time you order an Italian sandwich or a sausage and pepperoni pizza, notice how they are different than what you would find at your local BBQ joint or served next to your eggs at breakfast. Take time to enjoy the unique flavors that have earned the title of being Italian.
If you would like to try a taste of Italian sausage for yourself, visit Italian Garden, located in San Marcos, TX.