This is a very special recipe. I remember sitting in my grandparents kitchen as a little girl, eating this sausage. My grandfather made it, stuffed it, and smoked it himself. (Grandma cooked it.) My mom remembers being a child on the family farm during butchering and sausage making season. The adults would grind the meat and mix up the sausage, then fry a few little patties to taste, then add more basil/savory/salt/etc. There would be ropes of stuffed sausage links strung back and forth between chairs waiting to be taken to the smoke house.
The basil used in this recipe was brought over from Luxembourg in the mid 1800s. I have no idea what cultivar of basil it is, but my mother’s family has collected the seed and replanted it for at least 150 years. It’s a small leaf basil, so spicy globe may be a good substitute if you want to be super authentic. Otherwise, just use regular sweet basil.
When we were visiting last summer, I made off like a bandit with a copy of the family sausage recipe and a small packet of basil seed. I’m a terrible gardener, so I haven’t succeeded in growing any yet, but my mom has. She’s traded me dried Luxembourg basil in exchange for a small batch recipe for the sausage. I hope I’ve delivered. I haven’t tasted this sausage for twenty years.
- 1 lb ground pork, or a mix of pork and venison
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried summer savory
- 1/2 tsp puréed fresh onion*
- 1/8 tsp liquid smoke
This is a large batch recipe that I’m scaling down and adapting here. Not having any venison, I used plain ground pork. But I have fond memories of the venison/pork version though from my childhood. Pure venison sausage would be very dry, so my grandfather always used a 50/50 mix. Since we don’t have a smoke house here in Cheap Suburb, USA to smoke-cure the sausage, I’ve substituted regular table salt for Morton tender quicksalt. I’ve also added the tiniest bit of liquid smoke to the mix.
The onion was a special problem. The big recipe calls for grinding the onion up in a blender. But I didn’t want to grind up a whole onion just for half a teaspoon. I finally settled on using the bottom of my Bluffton Slaw Cutter/Grater. Box graters have the same cutting surface, it’s the one that looks like someone took a Philips head screwdriver and a hammer to the back of the grater to make sharp little star-like protrusions. I lopped off the top of the onion that’s going in tomorrow’s dinner and puréed it up with that grater surface and it made plenty of onion purée without ever risking my fingers.
Anyhow, add everything together in a big bowl and squish together with your fingers until it’s all evenly distributed. Fry up a small test piece, and adjust the flavorings if necessary. Then divide it into 2 oz. patties and freeze, refrigerate, or fry.