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Posted By: Joe Ames
Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2000 at 1:31 p.m.


ETHNIC sausages have enjoyed ad increase in popularity the last few years. One such product is fresh Italian sausage. It is sold in bulk, links, patties or chubs, to be used as a breakfast sausage, on sandwiches, in casseroles, on pizzas, in spaghetti sauce, as an entree, and in countless other ways.
It is a very versatile sausage your customers may find quite appealing.
Following is a formulation that can be used to produce an all-turkey fresh Italian sausage.

Fresh Italian Sausage Made With Turkey 100 lbs. boneless turkey
(a combination of thigh meat and leg meat with an overall composition of 85% lean and 15% fat)

3 lbs. water
115 lbs. salt
6 oz. dextrose
appropriate seasonings

This product could be marketed as having 50 percent less fat than USDA standards allow for fresh Italian sausage. (Fresh Italian sausage is permitted up to 35 percent fat.) FSIS regulations permit three percent water to be added to fresh sausage to facilitate mixing. When manufacturing a low-fat fresh sausage it is often best to add the three percent water. It will not only help facilitate mixing, but it also slightly increases the juiciness of the product after it is cooked.
Normal usage for salt in fresh Italian sausage is 11/2 -2 percent, with 1 3/4 percent being about average. The dextrose included in this formulation adds a little sweetness to the finished product and assists in helping the sausage brown when it is cooking. (Remember: dextrose is an excellent browning sugar.)

Typical spices used in fresh Italian sausage are black pepper and fennel. Usually a coarse-ground black pepper, often referred to as butcher-grind black pepper, is used in Italian sausage. Fennel is a very characteristic flavor of Italian sausage. Frequently a combination of whole fennel, for visible spice in the product, and ground fennel, for even distribution of the fennel flavor, is used. Ground anise, which has a flavor very similar to fennel, is often added in conjunction with the ground fennel.

Fresh Italian sausage is usually labeled in one of three ways: fresh Italian sausage (often referred to as mild Italian sausage), fresh sweet Italian sausage or fresh hot Italian sausage. Sweet Italian sausage contains additional sugar to give it a sweeter flavor profile. Sugar is used rather than dextrose because it has a higher sweetness value. Also, if too high a level of dextrose is used, it may cause the product to char, rather than brown, during cooking. Hot Italian sausage contains red pepper. Often a combination of ground red pepper and crushed red pepper is used.

Manufacturing Procedure

1. Grind boneless turkey through a 1/2 inch plate. (If leg meat is purchased coarse ground, it is not necessary to run it through the 1/2 inch plate.)
2. Transfer to mixer.
3. Add nonmeat ingredients. Mix 2 minutes. (The meat block should be mixed long enough to assure good distribution of the fat and lean and the seasoning. However, excessive mixing can result in a finished product that is tough and chewy)

Sometimes consumers will complain that low-fat poultry products lack the juiciness and flavor they associate with certain processed meats. Fresh Italian sausage produced from a combination of turkey and pork will be juicier than all-turkey Italian sausage and come closer to having “traditional” fresh Italian sausage characteristiôs. Following is a formulation that should produce a product that has a finished fat content around 30 percent and that is juicy and flavorful after cooking.

Fresh Italian Sausage Made From Turkey and Pork
70 lbs. boneless dark turkey meat (85% lean; 15% fat)
30 lbs. 50/50 pork trimmings
3 lbs. water
1.75 lbs. salt
6 oz. dextrose
appropriate seasonings

Thanks to Dr. Joseph C Cordmy, and
Dr. Dale L. Huffman, Professor of Meat Science at Auburn University


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