Sausage with Fennel

This recipe has a robust and slightly spicy flavor to it. It is best served with stone-ground mustard.


Country: Italy
Century: 16th



  • 1 pound pork
  • 1/8 cup minced fennel
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp clove
  • 1/4 tsp mace
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke*
  • 1/2 Tbsp water
  • Sausage casing or caul fat

Cut most of the fat off the pork and grind it (this can be done with a grinder attachment for a KitchenAid, or with a food processor if necessary). Mix fennel, spices, and liquid smoke into the pork, mixing everything as evenly as possible. Add water and mix to moisten slightly. **Fill sausage casing with pork. ***Let rest in the refrigerator for about two days before cooking it. You can cook it in any manner you like. I like to grill them, if possible, or, if grilling is not possible, fry them in a little bit of oil or butter.

*The making of this sausage is not truly accurate to the original recipe in that I was not able to smoke the sausage. To make up for this fact, I decreased the amount of salt used (as it was not be smoked to preserve it), and added a bit of liquid smoke to make up for the loss of the flavor from not smoking it. If you are able to smoke the sausage, I would recommend increasing the amount of salt used, (the recipe recommends using ) and discarding the use of liquid smoke.

**Stuffing sausage into a casing is a relatively easy process, especially if you have a machine to do it. If you do not have a machine (which I personally do not own one), there are ways of getting stuffing the casing, without having to do it by hand. One way I found that was efficient was to use a disposable pastry bag, with a large holed tip. (Please note that I needed an extra set of hands to do this). About a pound will fit into a bag, though you need to be careful. Twist the top of the bag closed and put into a metal vice attached to a counter or table. Have one person hold the casing onto the tip of the pastry bag, while the other squeezes the bag to force the pork into the casing. Be careful to take it slow so that you do not cause air bubbles. If you have any questions please feel free to email me.

***It is important to let the sausage rest for a day or two before cooking. Resting allows the spices to diffuse through the meat and mellow a bit, changing the flavor completely.


Original Recipe Sources

Source [Opera dell'arte del cucinare, Bartolomeo Scappi]; Per far mortatelle di carne magra di cigotto di porco domesticon in volto nella rete. Cap CIII. Piglinosi diece libre della soprascritta carne priva dossa, pelle, & nervi, la quale habbia del grasso, & magro, & battasi con li coltelli sopra la tavola, giungendovi otto oncie di sale trito, & sei oncie di finocchio dolce secco, quattro oncie di pepe ammaccato, un oncia di cannella pesta, meza oncia di garofani pesti, & sia ben mescolta insieme ogni cosa con la mano, & giunganovisi quattro oncie di acqua fredda, & menta, & maiorana battutat con un poco di serpillo, & lascisi riposare in un vaso di terra o di legno per quattro hore in loco fresco, & piglisi la rete desso porco ben netta di peli, & mollificata con acqua tepida, & faccianosi di tal compositione le mortatelle con la rete a foggia di tommacelle, & fatte che saranno lascinosi riposare il verno per due giorni in loco asciutto, & poi si cuocano su la graticola, overo nella padella con lo strutto liquefatto. Si protebbeno anco cuocere le tommacelle nello spedo tramezate con foglie di lauro, & le mortatelle si potrebbeno inspedare per lungo circondata di rame di rosmarino. Ma in qualunque modo sian cotte, vogliono esser servite calde. Della detta compositione si potrebbeno empir budelle di porco, che primo fossero state in sale, et piene che fossero il verno si potrebbeno lasciar stare per due giorni, & dapoi si potrebbeno alessare. Della detta carne magra dapoi che sar ben battuta si potranno anco far cervellate cn la rete, over in budelle, ponendo per ogni quantita di x. libre della dtta carne una libra et meza di cascio Parmeggiano grattato, et un oncia & meza di cannella pesta, un altra oncia & meza di pepe pesto, un ottava di zafferano, mezo bicchiero di acqua fresca, e tre oncie di sale; et come sar mescolata ogni cosa insieme si faranno le dette cervellate con la rete, overo in budelle, et si cuoceranno nel soprascritto modo; se ne potrebbeno ancho far tommacelle in rete, giungendovi otto oncie di uva passa, et otto rossi duova, et le dette tommacelle il verno saranno molto migliori se saranno fatte di due giorni. Delle mortatelle et altri salami che si fanno della detta carne non ne parlo, percioche non mai stato mia professione.

Source [Opera dell'arte del cucinare, Bartolomeo Scappi; Louise Smithson (trans.)]; To make mortatelle (sausages) of lean meat of boar or domestic pig wrapped in casing. Cap CIII Take 10lbs of the above written meat without bones, skin and nerves, that which has both fat and lean. Beat with a knife on the table, and add eight ounces of cut salt, and six ounces of sweet dried fennel, four ounces of pepper coarsely ground, one ounce of cinnamon ground, half an ounce of ground cloves and mix everything together well with the hands. Add four ounces of water and mint and marjoram chopped with a little thyme. Leave to rest in a wooden or ceramic pot for four hours in a cold place. Take the casing of this pig well washed of skin and soaked in warm water, and make of this mixture the mortatelle with the caul in the way one makes tomacelle. And during the winter let them rest two days in a dry place, then one cooks them on the grill or in a frying pan with liquid lard. One can also cook them on the spit between bay leaves, and the mortatelle may also be spitted along the length of sticks of rosemary. But in whatever way they are cooked, you want to serve them warm. Of the same mixture you can fill guts of pig, that first are cured in salt, and when they are full in winter you can let them sit for two days and then they must be boiled. Of the said meat lean, that has been well beaten you can also make cervellate with the caul or the guts, take for every ten pounds of the said meat one and a half pounds of grated parmeggiano, and one and a half ounces of ground cinnamon, another ounce and a half of peppper ground, an eighth of saffron, half a beker of cold water and three ounces of salt, and as it is mixed everything together one makes the said cervellatte with the caul or with the guts and one cooks in the above mentioned way. If one also wants to make tomacelle in the caul, add eight ounces of currants (dried grapes) and eight egg yolks, and the said tomacelle in winter are much better two days after being made. Of the mortatelle and other salami that one makes from the said meat I will not talk as it has never been my job/profession.

Source [The Neapolitan Recipe Collection, Terence Scully (trans.)]: Salsize bone. Piglia carne magra de porcho ho de vitella magra he grassa, he falla battere molto bene; he guarda che non ci sia nervi; et se la carne he .x libre, meteli meza libra de sale he onze due de finoghio ben nettado, et due onze de pebro grossamente pistado; he miscola tute queste cose insema he lassa stare per uno di; dapoi tolle budella ben nettata he impele de questa materia, poi pone le salsize a sugare al fumo.

Good Sausages. Get lean pork or veal and fat and beat it well - and mind that there is no gristle in it; if there is ten pounds of meat, use half a pound of salt, two ounces of well cleaned fennel and two ounces of roughly ground pepper; mix everything together and let it stand for a day; then get very well cleaned intestines and stuff them with this mixture, and set the sausages in the dry to smoke.