In Italy there are many many salsiccia and salame, and each region has its special log of meat. The most famous are Genoa salami, mortadella, cotechino, and soppressata. Interestingly, there is no bologna sausage in Italy, the local sausage in the town of Bologna is called mortadella. There is most definitely nothing called “Italian Sausage”.
But the term “Italian Sausage” has emerged in the US, and it has a specific flavor profile. It is a tube of coarsely ground pork sausage in natural pork casing, usually about 25% fat, with a distinctive flavor from fennel seed. It comes in three grades, sweet, mild, and hot. The main difference is the amount of hot pepper added, although a few of the sweet blends include basil, and the heat and other seasonings vary significantly from butcher to butcher. It is sold raw, not cured or smoked, and it can be bought in standard 6″ links, in coiled ropes, or loose like burger meat.
The origin of the recipe is uncertain, but Judy Witts Francini, a cookbook author, teacher, and culinary tour guide based in Italy, tells me that there is something similar in Sicily, which makes sense since Southern Italy is where most Italian-American immigrants originated.
Published On: 8/6/2013 Last Modified: 3/27/2021