I just made my first test batch of italian sausage.
I used a 1 pound package of Smithfield 'fresh ground' pork. The ground pork looked pretty close to a sausage grind,
so I'm not too concerned about texture. It's going to be a big patty on the bottom of the pizza anyway.
The ground pork has about half the fat of the pre-made italian sausage I usually buy from my local grocery,
so hopefully it will leave less of a grease puddle when I cook it.
I kept it pretty basic, using only salt, pepper, garlic powder and crushed fennel at the same amounts listed in the recipe I posted above.
The uncooked sausage smells pretty close to what I'd call a chicago-style italian sausage.
Now it goes into the fridge for a couple days.
I'll let you all know how it works out when I make my next pizza.
Question: Are you sure Lou's doesn't use fennel or is it possible they are using a ground/powder form of fennel seed in their sausage so it's not visible? If anyone from Anichini Brothers or any other local sausage-maker wants to post anonymously and give us some hints about spices, we'd appreciate it! ;-)
Making sausage is out of my league, Ed. But eating it isn't. Just some general thoughts. For just a pound of pork, I wonder if quarter tsps of some of those ingredients wouldn't be preferable, as well as some other reductions. I would tend to agree on leaving out the red pepper flakes. One can always shake it on the pizza if they really want it.
There is a specialty sausage shop in Clearwater, Florida that makes many different kinds of European sausage. One that was reddish in color got my curiosity and I inquired as to what it was. I was told it was "Hungarian" sausage, which they said was similar to polish sausage only with a lot of paprika in it. I tried it, along with a good supply of Italian, Polish and Lithuanian sausage. All were good, but I'd put the Hungarian in last place. We didn't care for the large amount of paprika in the sausage. And the recipe you have seems to call for a lot of it.
I've eaten alot of Malnati's sausage. It is excellent and has some things in it that I just can't identify. But one thing it doesn't have is fennel seed, which on other pizzas is one of my favorite spices for pizza sauce and pizza sausage. I would think to try it anyway. And the proportion of garlic powder does seem good as I seem to remember some good garlic flavor to their sausage.
When you say "ground lean pork" I assume its not ground like hamburger would be. I don't know what to call or how to characterize the grind for a sausage, but I often see ground pork at the butcher but that isn't appropriate for sausage use I wouldn't think.
Am looking forward to hearing about your sausage making adventures.