One of the things that takes some getting use to about living in the country is the concept that “I’m just gonna run out and grab this thing I need” is insanely impractical. We’re a good 40 minutes to the closest supermarket, and while we have a small mom and pop grocery store about 10 minutes away, it certainly isn’t open all the time and has a very small selection.
Because of this, I’ve gotten really good at making substitutions. It’s not ever ideal, but it does the job and saves us the gas money (and time) of a trip “into the city”.
My newest substitution achievement is turning pork breakfast sausage into pork Italian sausage.
For some reason, our CSA keeps us in near-constant supply of delicious, flavorful, local pork breakfast sausage. Our freezer is stocked. So when I went digging in our deep freeze the other day for some Italian sausage, and all I was met with was pounds and pounds of breakfast sausage, I knew it was time for some substitution magic.
In an ideal world, we’d use the highest quality Italian sausage from the most incredible little Italian shop you could find. But this isn’t ideal. This is the country, where we do insane things like chase off coyotes and turn breakfast sausage into Italian sausage.
Because breakfast sausage is loaded with all kind of its own flavorings (most of which we don’t want in the final product) it takes some herb and spice subterfuge to cover those up and bring out that nice, spicy, fennel-y Italian sausage flavor. So open up your spice drawer kids, we’ve got some work to do.
The mixture is easy, in a bowl, combine:
- 1 pound breakfast sausage
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (this is absolutely imperative, fennel seeds are what *make* Italian sausage)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like it hot)
Use your hands and get it really well-mixed and get all the spices distributed. Go on, get dirty. Once all the spices are mixed it, it’s ready to be used just like you would a store-bought pound of Italian sausage. I used mine in a tomato sauce over fresh pasta. Yum!