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I've just returned to London from a holiday in Puglia, Italy. The sausages (not salami) are so completely different to the sausages here. Their colours are pink/white or red/white and much more bright/bold, whereas here the colours are pretty drab. Here when I cut open the casing to crumble out the sausage meat to use in something else, I get a sticky and pretty disgusting texture. The meat in their sausages is much more like actual meat. When cooked I find the Italian ones taste so much better as well.

Basically I hate the sausages here and love the Italian ones. What's the difference between the two (aside from aromatics etc) and how can I get more "real meat" sausages in my life? Obviously I could buy from some of the specialist online retailers who stock them, and I probably will, but I want to understand why the sausages here are so completely different. For example, why is the sausage "meat" here basically a sticky paste?

Images illustrating the difference:

  • Technique and ingredients vary widely among cuisines that include sausages. Why not make your own? It's not that difficult, and you would be able to better approximate the sausage you are looking for. – moscafj Nov 27 '17 at 20:12
  • @moscafj Eventually that's something I'll look into. – 404 Nov 27 '17 at 20:19
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    Have you tried visiting a local butcher shop that makes their own sausages? I find the sausages available in the local grocery store to be similar to what you describe - but fresh made sausages from a butcher are usually much better quality. – SnakeDoc Nov 27 '17 at 20:29
  • @SnakeDoc I am in fact trying to do just that. Doesn't help that every local butchers here is muslim-run so won't sell pork. – 404 Nov 27 '17 at 20:32
  • Have you looked for an online presence for any of the makers of the sausages you like? Will they/Can they ship? If you can't get them from local butchers can you maybe see if a local grocer can import them for you? (not certain what regulations might apply to the international shipment of sausages) – Cos Callis Nov 27 '17 at 21:05
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I agree with your assessment of the sausages between the UK and Italy, getting decent sausages in the UK is harder, but not impossible. Commercial sausages in the UK tend to be very finely ground, and have rusk or some sort of meal to act as a filler and absorb juices as they are cooked. UK sausages tend to be flavored by herbs, or have apple in them. Italian sausages are generally more coarsely ground so you see distinct pieces of meat and fat throughout, they also have less fillers so they shed more fat when cooked.

In the UK you get what you pay for with sausages, if you get the cheap store brand stuff you'll get sad tubes of grey paste which will split the second they experience direct heat and spray so much fat the entire barbecue starts on fire. If you shell out a bit more you will get a better product. My advice is to find a good butcher, many make their own sausages in store and they usually have good variety. My local one has quite a few and one is an actual authentic Italian style sausage which is excellent, you mileage may vary but it's worth shopping around.

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Not true answer, but long for a comment:

In US, most sausages tend to be ground multiple times and a course grind in the US is what many others might call a fine grind, and I think most UK sausage techniques are close to US. Spices and varieties vary, but techniques are similar. What you want is probably more of a chopped meat rather than a ground meat. Biggest issue there might be getting that quality and still getting a reasonably even distribution of fat for fairly uniform cooking.

A question, the sausages you liked in Italy, was the meat possibly cured or smoked before stuffing the sausage? This might well be an option to reach a chunkier, more meat consistency along with chopping rather than grinding. Most "Italian" sausage I have seen tends to be fresh, while in Italy there may be more of a tendency towards curing as well. Curing salts and such often have the tendency to firm up the meat. A selection of the source meat can also effect. US sausage tends to often use lean meat with added fat, but if a more marbled meat with less added fat is used you may be able to grind/mix less and reach closer to your target.

I would suggest researching both sausage making and charcuterie techniques and experimenting. For books you may need to stray from US or UK published and try for translations from French, Italian, maybe Spanish. As for pork, sounds like may need a weekend drive to the country with an ice chest.

ETA, yes, from your picture, I would class your UK sausage as a fine grind, probably through the grinder twice and a third time for stuffing. The pictured Italian ones are more of a chop and mix, or single very course grind and then stuffed with a press stuffer, not with another trip through the grinder.

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Can't comment on the state of sausage in the UK in particular. However, I can comment on sausage in general.

The term sausage if very broad. There are many different kinds of meat that can go into the sausage. They can be finally-ground, coarsely ground, or even cut into chunks with a knife. Sausage can vary in how much fat, offal, or non-meat fillers are added.

Please consider visiting a Polish deli or butcher in the UK. Polish people love meat. There is a huge variety of sausage in Poland. It's not all great and you can find poor-quality stuff as well. However, the spectrum of quality is big and you are bound to find something that will satisfy your tastes if you check out Polish sausages.

  • I have a large polish deli near me, I will check it out. Thanks. – 404 Nov 30 '17 at 11:28

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