Country Sausage

During the many years I spent wandering the country, there were two things I missed most as a Southerner. One was fresh turnip greens. The other was good country sausage. The country sausage you find outside the South isn't worthy of the name. It's bland on all counts. The really good stuff is just great pork, salt and black pepper, cayenne pepper and sage. Lots of flavor and no filler. My version is unusual in that it includes some country ham, which adds depth and richness.

Makes about 3 1/2 pounds

3/4 pound country ham, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 1/2 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes

2/3 pound pork fat, cut into 1-inch cubes

4 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried, ground (rubbed) sage

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup ice water

Finely grind country ham in a food processor.

Toss meats with all seasonings except water and place in freezer until semi-frozen, about 1 1/2 hours.

Grind meat using 3/8-inch plate. (Or pulse in a food processor until about the size of baby peas.) Add water and ham to mixture and knead and squeeze to mix thoroughly, or use paddle attachment on your stand mixer on low. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then fry a small patty, taste and adjust seasonings.

At this point you can stuff casings using a stuffer or divide into bulk portions for later use.

For a real Memorial Day treat, grill patties then top with sharp cheddar cheese and serve on fresh biscuits. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit