Barb’s Italian Beef Sausage

Since we're allergic to pork, and so many of our favorite recipes call for sausage, a few years ago I set out to create an Italian beef sausage recipe that hit all my favorite flavor notes. This is it, and it's my favorite sausage. It's floral, and I think pretty wonderful. I'm always surprised that so much flavor complexity can come from so few ingredients.

what's cool about this recipe

Super Fast to Make

With only a few ingredients, this sausage is easy to throw together on the fly for any recipe. 

It's One to Memorize

This is one of those recipes to memorize as a staple. With so many recipes calling for sausage, it's easy to throw this one together in a flash, and with the very few ingredients, it's easy to memorize. Definitely one to keep in your mental recipe book.

It's Wonderfully Floral

I've always had a thing for edible flowers, and while Coriander isn't a flower, it's smell and flavor translate to me as floral. It gives this sausage such a wonderful freshness that gets me with every bite. 

Sausage Cravings = BULLSEYE

I've been looking for this flavor profile since I was 10 years old, and here it is! It hits the mark on all my flavor notes I love the most in a good sausage.

 

Barb’s Italian Beef Sausage

Since we're allergic to pork, and so many of our favorite recipes call for sausage, a few years ago I set out to create a beef sausage recipe that hit all my favorite flavor notes. This is it, and it's my favorite sausage. It's floral, and I think pretty wonderful. I'm always surprised that so much flavor complexity can come from so few ingredients.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 pounds
Author Mom

Ingredients

  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 2 ½ tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 lbs. Ground Beef… 90/10 fat
  • 2.5 tsp. Fennel
  • 2 tsp. Coriander

Instructions

  1. Tip: This is where good quality meat is important. Lower quality meat tends to get a weird flavor to it, but better quality meat will taste better and let the sausage ingredients shine through without the heaviness of bovine or fleshy odors and tastes. It results in a cleaner sausage.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together. 
  3. Break half the ground beef apart into small chunks (about 1” pieces) and add one layer to a gigantic mixing bowl. Sprinkle half the ingredients evenly over top. Repeat until all beef and dry ingredients are layered. Mix well with fingers, kneading and squishing the seasonings into the beef until it seem pretty even throughout. 

  4. At this point, you have the option of freezing it in one batch or smaller batches, or cooking it immediately. If cooking immediately, simply saute in a saute pan until meat is browned through. 

  5. For more tender and flavorful ground sausage, once browned, slow-cook in a crockpot on low for 8 hours, then use or store as you wish. 

Recipe Notes

Tip: This is where good quality meat is important. Lower quality meat tends to get a weird flavor to it, but better quality meat will taste better and let the sausage ingredients shine through without the heaviness of bovine or fleshy odors and tastes. It results in a cleaner sausage.

Quick background about where this recipe came from, and how it's used 

Since we're allergic to pork, and so many of our favorite recipes call for sausage, a few years ago I set out to create a beef sausage recipe that hit all my favorite flavor notes. When I was a kid growing-up in the Philippines, Shakey's Pizza at the UniMall had the best sausage. I've never liked Stateside sausage, and until designing my own recipe, I hadn't been able to find a satisfying sausage flavor since moving to The States. Sausage pizza was our staple in the Philippines (sausage pizza and a not-too-sweet root beer go together perfectly, btw). After coming to the US, I thought I hated sausage... until I researched and discovered what herbs make a minced (ground) meat into sausage, and which ones hit the flavor notes I love the most. This is my beef version of Shakey's Pizza sausage in the PI. 

It's floral, and I think pretty wonderful. I'm always surprised that so much flavor complexity can come from so few ingredients... but that's the mark of a good recipe. Too many ingredients becomes an indistinct flavor. Steer clear of recipes calling for half the herbs you have in your pantry, especially when mixed herb blends, like adding seasoned salt with curry and Italian Seasoning and this and that and a million other things. Less is more.

The coriander (ground cilantro seeds) is what gives it the floral flavor, and the fennel is what gives it the flavor that's typically associated with sausage. Fennel is similar in flavor to anise, which is similar to black licorice. Both fennel and anise contain anethole, which is the compound in black licorice that gives it its flavor. I can't stand black licorice, but fennel in savory (not-sweet) foods like meat is actually fantastic. They mesh well. 

   

Variations

This recipe is balanced for me. I vacillate between Wild Fennel from the garden (which hints of dill just a little), and store-bought jarred fennel. The floral to anethole balance is just right for my taste-buds, and it brings back a lot of nostalgia from my childhood. You may, however, want a sausage that's more floral, so add more coriander. Prefer more anethole? Either increase the fennel or try adding anise instead of the fennel... but go easy, anise is strong. Maybe try half fennel, half anise. Need more heat? Increase the black pepper, or add a coupe of pinches of red pepper flakes. Your choice. Play around with it, but FIRST... make the recipe as stated so you have a baseline to work your way around. Always start tweaking after trying the base recipe, otherwise, you're flying blind.

Recipe Applications 

  • Zuppa Tuscana
  • Pizza
  • Egg Frittatas
  • Sausage, Egg, & Cheese English Muffins
  • Spaghetti Meat Sauce

Making it into a Mix/ Bulk pre-prepared

  • frozen: Completely freezable either raw or cooked. I store 1 lb of raw in a quart bag and flatten the whole thing to put into the freezer... like sheets of meat in baggies. I store a lot of meats that way. You can get about 10 lbs of ground beef mixes into a gallon-bag-sized stack only about 10" high. That's a lot of dinner prep saved. 
  • canning: I've never canned this recipe, and I don't have a pressure canner to can meats. If you have a pressure canner, you can try it, but I don't know how the salt and seasonings will fare over time in the jar on the shelf. You may end-up with a sausage that tastes completely different than its fresh counterpart... maybe too salty, maybe the herbs morphed into something good or bad. I have no idea. If you ever get around to trying it, let me know how it goes... if I don't get to it first.  

Use This In...

  • Zuppa Tuscana
  • Pizza
  • Egg Frittatas
  • Sausage, Egg, & Cheese English Muffins
  • Spaghetti Meat Sauce
  • Barb's Eggplant Lasagna
  • Zuchinni Pizza

 

Drink Pairing Suggestions

  • water
  • soda
  • tea