Sundried Tomato and Fennel Sausage

April 15th, 2009  |  Published in All, DIY Food Projects, Fennel, Garlic, Homemade Sausage and Meat Cookery, Honorable Herbs, Sausages, Meats, Succulent Spices, Thyme, Tomatoes, Veritable Vegetables  |  10 Comments

Sundried tomato spice mixture

Sundried Tomato and Fennel Sausage

1/3 c. dry packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 – 1 T. olive oil
4 T. cold water
2 t. fennel seeds, freshly ground
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 T. fresh thyme, finely minced
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. white pepper
2 lbs pork shoulder, well chilled

Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl, and cover with boiling water.  Allow to soften for 15 minutes, then drain and finely chop.  Place chopped tomatoes in a small bowl, then mix with the olive oil, water, fennel, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Set aside

Cut the pork into smallish cubes, about 3/4 inch or so.  Pass through the coarse plate of a meat grinder.  Place pork in a bowl, then using your hands, mix in the tomato and fennel spice mixture until well combined.  Pass meat mixture through the coarse plate of the meat grinder one more time, then place in a bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight to allow the flavors to blend.

Shape into patties and fry, stuff into casings, or simply saute the loose sausage.   Enjoy!

Alternatively, if you don’t have a meat grinder, if you ask nicely, most butchers will grind the meat for you in their shop.  Or you can simply start with ground pork, adding 1/4 c. or so extra chopped fat from slab bacon or pork belly

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sometimes you find an ingredient that just inspires you.  Usually for me it’s not something that’s exotic or expensive, but rather something that is of such high quality or is so fresh that you want to run home and cook something with it *right now*!

Such were the dried tomatoes I found at a small salumeria in Como, Italy this past weekend.  Steven and I went down for a long weekend and pretty much ate ourselves silly with amazingly delicious Italian food.  The highlight was an under-the-stars dinner on the terrace at Al Giardino (on Via Monte Grappa, if you happen to be in the area) in the outskirts of Como — fresh burrata, handmade pasta with fresh spicy sausage, breaded and fried lamb chops, a chocolate and pear tart, and oh the red wine!

But back to the tomatoes.  These dried tomatoes are perfectly pliable, deep rusty red, and highly aromatic.  Personally, I find more uses for dry packed tomatoes than tomatoes packed in oil, though both have a time and a place.  Once I got back home, I started thinking of ways to use the tomatoes… tomato cream sauce, polenta with dried tomatoes, egg custard with dried tomatoes and herbs… and then my mind drifted to sausage — I do live in Germany, you know :).

Making sausage is really much easier than one would think, especially if you just make patties or use it as bulk sausage.  Most of the time when I buy sausage links, I end up taking it out of the casings anyway, so when making my own, I rarely bother with the stuffing step.  If you don’t have a meat grinder, then things are even easier!  Just ask your butcher to grind whatever meat you purchase there in the shop.  If possible, start with a cut of meat rather than buying pre-ground pork, as you are more likely to get the meat to fat ratio correct with a cut like a picnic shoulder or boston butt.  Then just mix in the seasonings, and you have bulk sausage.

And one last note, definitely don’t skimp on the fat when making sausage — an 85/15 or 80/20 meat to fat ratio is ideal.  Less than that and your sausage will have a grainy, dry texture.  And really, if you’re going to go to the trouble of making sausage from scratch, shouldn’t it be as tasty as possible?  And speaking of the taste of this sausage — it’s fantastic!  Herby with a hint of savory sweetness from the tomatoes, and just the right amount of pepper — delicious at any meal!

Sundried Tomato and Fennel Sausage
Bulk Sausage

Breakfast patties
Breakfast Patties

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  1. denise says:

    April 15th, 2009at 9:52 am(#)

    that Al Giardino dinner…wow…perfection. i must plan a trip to Como! we had a meat grinder growing up, but as an adult i’ve never owned one. perhaps it is time. by the way, i always remove my sausage from the casing too. ciao!

  2. Jen says:

    April 15th, 2009at 10:40 am(#)

    denise — perfection it was! As for meat grinders, I highly recommend getting one. They’re not too expensive (mine was around $50 for a grinder with two plates and sausage attachments), and it’s good to have around in my opinion. Perhaps not that many people would find use for one, but from what I know about you, I think you just might! :)

  3. steven says:

    April 15th, 2009at 11:36 am(#)

    how do you know how much your meat grinder was? that was a gift! ;)

  4. Erin says:

    April 18th, 2009at 8:30 am(#)

    I am with you on the sun dried tomatoes, the oil packed ones have their place, but I prefer the dried ones. I stocked up on the most gloriously fragrant ones in Italy and was so sad when I used the last of them. I guess it’s just another excuse to go back!

    The sausage looks beyond tempting! I love the process of making sausage, I think one of these days I’ll have to fire up the old grinder and make these.

    It sounds like you two are having a wonderful time!

  5. Jen says:

    April 19th, 2009at 12:30 am(#)

    Erin – I wish I had bought more tomatoes when I was there! Just this week I have gone through about a third of what I bought… and I’d love to hear any of your sausage recipes if you do decide to fire up the old grinder!

  6. Erin says:

    April 20th, 2009at 3:48 pm(#)

    I’ve got one for Lincolnshire style sausages on my site and I’ve also done a chicken apple thyme, but I was winging it on that. I have a few recipes jotted down and ready to go. After my move I’ll make them and share the recipes with you.

  7. Devon says:

    April 21st, 2009at 7:27 pm(#)

    My friend Debs-the-foodie sent me here last night when I asked her if she knew of any soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free sausage-with-fennel recipes I could make with ground turkey. Awesome! I am off to procure some sundried tomatoes.

  8. Jen says:

    April 22nd, 2009at 1:06 am(#)

    Devon — thanks for commenting! If you make this with entirely with turkey, make sure to include the turkey skin to give it some fat — you want about 80/20 meat-to-fat. Otherwise the sausage will be grainy and dry. If you aren’t opposed to using some pork, you could use about 25% pork belly and 75% turkey to the right meat-to-fat ratio. Good luck!

  9. Devon says:

    April 25th, 2009at 3:41 pm(#)

    Hey I made this with turkey (I don’t do pork) and it was great, by the way! Thanks! I just added a little extra oil to compensate for the less fat in turkey and it was lovely! I whirred it all in the food processor (garlic & oil first, added other spices, then tomatoes and finally the meat) and everything came out very nicely in my opinion. Oh I also added chili pepper flakes, as I like things a bit spicy. Yum…I will definitely put this in the recipe file.

  10. Jen says:

    April 25th, 2009at 11:10 pm(#)

    Devon – I am glad you liked it! now you’ve inspired me to try some sausages with poultry!

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