Calabrese Sausage Recipe

Calabrese-style sausage on a bun, with peperoncini

Calabrese means ‘from Calabria’, which is a province in southern Italy.  The foundational flavours of Calabrese cuisine are olive oil, garlic, chili, and fennel seed.  My understanding is that many of the Italians in Edmonton have roots in Calabria.  So here, as in many other parts of North America with lots of southern Italian immigrants, this flavour profile has simply become “Italian”.  Like if you go to the Italian market and something is labelled “Spicy Italian Sausage” you can bet that it contains garlic, chili, and fennel.  Even though this particular combination isn’t common in most of Italy.

Anyways.  This is my attempt to replicate one of the Calabrese sausages made at Mercato, in Calgary, where I worked over the Christmas season of 2010.  Mercato is a very special restaurant and market, started in the 1970s by a couple that emigrated from Calabria.

After a garlicky smoky, this is my favourite summer grilling sausage, especially if you have sautéed peppers and onions on hand.

Calabrese – Spicy Italian Sausage


  • 1 kg pork butt
  • 16 g kosher salt
  • 20 g garlic, minced
  • 7 g white sugar
  • 5 g fennel seed
  • 10 g chili flakes
  • 2.5 g dried oregano
  • 50 g ice water


  1. Standard sausage making procedure outlined here.
  2. Combine meat, salt, and spices. Spread in a single layer on a sheet tray and chill thoroughly in the freezer.
    Grind once using a 3/16″ plate.
  3. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add water. Mix with paddle attachment on speed 2 for 3 minutes.
  4. Stuff into 29/32 hog casings. Link at 6″.