Sweet Fennel Sausage

1 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground, for the best taste)
1/2 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 - 1 teaspoon red pepper (more or less, to your preference)
1/4 teaspoon fennel powder
pinch of thyme
pinch of oregano

I call this 'sweet' because the fennel gives it a hint of sweet flavor. It does not contain sugar or any actual sweetener. In fact, it is a very savory sausage that is appropriate both as a breakfast sausage and as an addition to bean soups and other similar recipes. You can play with the red pepper to give it just a slight tang, or a real bite. I have used both cayenne pepper flakes and ground cayenne pepper, and it's good either way.

In many years of making sausage, I have learned that it's best to mix the spices together first, rather than dumping them separately on top of the meat and then trying to get them all mixed in evenly. I measure the spies into a 6oz custard cup and mix them thoroughly before adding them to the meat.

I often mix up enough spices for several batches of my favorite sausage, and put those in a small Mason jar in the pantry. Then I can just measure out the amount I need for a pound of pork, rather than having to haul out all the spice jars every time I make sausage. To make this recipe for a pound of meat, you'll need about 7-1/2 tsp of the mix, if you use the larger amount of red pepper.

You can put the pork in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the spice mixture over it. But here's a suggestion. If you have a large chopping board, spread the pork out as much as you can to get a thin layer. Then sprinkle the spices evenly over the top. Roll up the meat with the spices inside, knead and mix, and then spread it out evenly again, and repeat. Do this as many times as needed to get an even distribution of the spices.

One final observation: I don't recommend freezing uncooked sausage (which is one reason I don't make up more than one pound at a time). I feel that freezing a spiced mixture with this amount of fat in it results in an undesirable change in the flavor of the spices. That's a personal opinion, for which I claim no scientific justification at all. So take that's for what it's worth and do what's convenient for you.