Italian sweet fennel sausage

Courtesy of Ed Hoffmann

This mildly flavored sausage is perfumed with the scents of fennel, allspice, and oregano, and is the sweet Italian sausage of your neighborhood delicatessen. Use it wherever you want a pleasant fresh sausage with a touch of garlic, spices, and herbs.

3 lbs. pork butt
3/4 lb. pork back fat
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. fennel seed

1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 c. dry red wine
Medium hog casings (optional)

A wonderful quick dinner: grill sausages with eggplant and thick slices of red onion sprinkled with olive oil; serve with a full-bodied Merlot from California or northern Italy.

Grind the pork and fat together through a 3/8-inch plate. Add the garlic, salt, spices, and red wine. Mix well with your hands. Shape into patties, or stuff into casings and tie into 5-inch links. Keeps 3 days refrigerated, 2-3 months frozen. Makes 4 pounds