Bulk Italian Sausage and Broccoli Sausage Pasta | Make Ahead Mondays


Homemade Bulk Italian Sausage in Sausage and Broccoli Pasta from Foodie with Family 3

Have you ever been so intimidated to try making a certain thing in the kitchen that you put it off forever and a day. Then you finally work up the courage to try making it and are stunned to find it ridiculously easy? Such was the story with me and sausage a few years ago. I had made all sorts of food that makes people pause -cheesecakes, bread, homemade thises and thats- but I had always been just a bit scared of making sausage. I chalk this up to the time I spent in my teen and early adult years as a vegetarian. I had this little inferiority complex about my meat cooking skills.

Then one day, we came into a windfall of pork shoulder and decided I didn’t have much to lose since I had so very much pork lying around. I ground a couple of pounds of pork, added what I figured I liked best in sausage -fennel, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, and black pepper- mixed it up with my hands, rolled it into little meatballs and fried them in a pan before building a marinara sauce around them. Holy wah.

To say that all my sausage making fears were wiped away with one succulent little pan full of saucy, moist, garlicky, spicy, browned-to-perfection-then-simmered meatballs is putting it mildly. The homemade sausage was superior in every single way from texture to flavour. It was perfect. In fact, I was so bucked up by my success that I made fresh sausage and meals from said sausage five nights in a row.

Then, although I was not nearly tired of the sausage, I was definitely tired of washing the grinder and all its little parts, and thus had an epiphany. They call it bulk sausage for a reason; I will make much and freeze some.

Bulk Italian Sausage with seasonings from Foodie with Family

And the freezing? I had a trick there, too… I weighed two and a half pounds of sausage into gallon freezer bags, squeezed out as much air as I possibly could and gently pressed the sausage so that it filled the bag all the way to the corners while flattening it. Then I pressed the handle of a long wooden spoon down the center of the bag and twice more perpendicular to that first impression.

Bulk Italian Sausage ready for the freezer from Foodie with Family

The reason I did this was two-fold. First, it would freeze faster and neater; flat bags stack up more efficiently in the freezer than wadded up bulky ones. Second, I could easily break off a square or two of the sausage without using the entire two and a half pounds. Two squares would give me between one and one and a half pounds of sausage which was just perfect for browning and scattering over pizzas or adding to pasta sauce. SCORE! (Ahem. Get it?)

Those first sausage experiments led me to many more. (See here and here for examples that I’ve posted before!) but nothing has matched the versatility and sheer usefulness of having a freezer full of bulk Italian sausage. So. Darned. Good.

Whaddya do with a freezer full beyond adding to pasta sauce or putting on pizza? Well, how about one of our favourite fast weeknight meals? Broccoli Sausage Pasta. This is one that pleases my crowd (even though I admit I have to pull some of the browned sausage from the pan before adding the broccoli to keep the No-Green-Things Contingent from revolting and BEING revolting at the table.) and feeds them for a song. You can use either fresh or frozen broccoli crowns in the dish, whichever you can procure most easily and the hearty dish is done in a flash.

Now here’s the thing. Where I live, pork shoulder is far cheaper per pound than purchased Italian sausage and it is marginally cheaper per pound than pre-ground pork. Since I prefer to grind my own, I stick with the pork shoulders. If you don’t have a grinder or food processor, you can definitely still make this using pre-ground pork. You’ll still be blown away by how wonderful it tastes!

I re-upped my Italian sausage stores this weekend while my kids were out enjoying all the snow that fell. I know it has nothing to do with food, but you have to see what my thirteen year old guy did with his time. Methinks he has had cabin fever…

Foodie with Family snowman army

When all the chilled and pink-cheeked boys came barreling in the door, I had a pan full of Broccoli Sausage Pasta ready to go. There were happy faces and full bellies that evening.

What would YOU do with a freezer full of Italian sausage?

5 from 1 reviews
Bulk Italian Sausage and Broccoli Sausage Pasta | Make Ahead Mondays
Homemade Bulk Italian Sausage is so simple and so much better than store-bought. Keep a stash of it in the freezer at all times so you can whip up this fast, fabulous weeknight favourite- Broccoli Sausage Pasta. You'll love this hearty, crowd-pleasing dish of garlicky, spicy, crisped Italian sausage, crisp-tender broccoli and rotini with a generous handful of grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.
To Make the Bulk Italian Sausage:
  • 8 pounds freshly ground pork shoulder {*See Notes} or purchased ground pork.
  • 18-26 peeled garlic cloves (depending on how garlicky you like your sausage.)
  • 8 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2-5 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like your sausage.)
  • 6 tablespoons kosher salt (you can adjust upward, but this is the minimum amount you should use.)
To Make the Broccoli Sausage Pasta:
  • 1 pound Bulk Italian Sausage
  • 1 pound rotini or other shaped pasta
  • 12 ounces to 1 pound fresh or frozen broccoli florets (The pictured dish used 12 ounces of frozen baby broccoli florets.)
  • ⅓ cup chicken stock (preferably) or water
  • grated Romano or Parmesan cheese to taste
  1. http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Bulk-Italian-Sausage-ready-for-the-freezer-from-Foodie-with-Family.jpgAdd the pork to a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic cloves, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper flakes and salt to the bowl of a food processor (or pile it together on a large cutting board.) Process until the garlic is broken down very finely and is almost paste-like. If you are using a cutting board, chop them all together until the garlic is almost paste-like.
  2. Scrape the mixture over the pork and use your hands to blend well. Test the sausage spice mixture by forming a quarter sized patty and frying it in a pan. Taste the test sausage. If you need to, adjust the spices and salt.
  3. Divide the sausage into 4 gallon sized freezer bags. Squeeze out as much air as you can before mostly sealing the bag (leaving just a corner open to allow air to move out.) Gently push the sausage flat and fill the entire bag. Once the bag is filled to the corners, seal the little bit of the bag that you left open. Use the long handle of a wooden spoon to press a line down the middle of the bag from top to bottom, leaving a ridge in the sausage. Turn the spoon handle perpendicular to that line and press down about ⅓ of the way from the bottom of the bag and again at about ⅓ of the way from the top of the bag. This will leave 6 "rectangles" of sausage.
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  5. Lay the bag on a flat baking sheet, repeat with the remaining freezer bags of sausage and put the pan in the freezer. This will store well for up to six months before beginning to lose flavour.
  6. You can open the bag and break off as many rectangles of frozen sausage as you need.
To Make the Broccoli Sausage Pasta:
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed, large skillet, break up and cook the Italian sausage over medium high heat until it is crispy and browned but still moist. If it is excessively oily, feel free to drain some of the fat, but do leave some in to help coat the pasta. The flavour is wonderful!
  3. Add the broccoli florets and the chicken stock or water, scrape up the lovely brown sausagey bits from the pan, cover and steam until the broccoli is crisp tender. While the broccoli is steaming, cook pasta according to package directions.
  4. Strain the pasta and add it to the pan with the broccoli and sausage. Toss to distribute evenly and serve immediately generously doused with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.
You can use a food processor or meat grinder to grind your own pork for this project if you wish. I prefer to buy bone-in pork shoulder and remove the bone myself. This cut is perfect just as it is, and aside from taking out that bone, needs no further prep work other than cutting it to fit into the grinder or food processor. It is the perfect sausage-cut because of its natural marbling.



  1. says

    I have to admit I have never in a million years considered making sausage at home, but I might give your recipe a try! Love the snowman family reunion ; )

  2. says

    Mmm….I’ve made a maple apple breakfast sausage before….using ground pork, and you’re right, it was so delicious! Now, I’m feeling the need for a meat grinder!

    And, a little jealous over here at the sight of all of those snowmen!!! If we *have* snow, it never sticks. I can’t imagine making a snowman….let alone and ARMY of snowmen! :) Love it!

  3. Emily W. says

    Ditto on the Calvin and Hobbes. First thing I thought when I saw that lol. Also, I am really glad you posted your sausage recipe. I’ve used Alton’s before, and really like his method, but felt his Italian sausage was a little lacking in flavor and his breakfast recipe the opposite. I’ll definitely be trying this.

  4. Jen L says

    ok, so this looks really fabulous, but I am not so keen on the pork shoulder since I have a bit of a cholesterol issue. sooooo wondering if you have thought about trying this with ground turkey or chicken?? The kids love sausage on pizza so that is what this recipe made me think of. :)

    • Karen says

      I make sausage with ground turkey all the time (breakfast and Italian) Though the flavor is different because it is turkey not pork and there is less fat – you still get all the yummy flavor from the spices.

  5. Rie says

    This recipe looks great. Can’t wait to try it. When I do, I’ll probably also try your pasta dish above, or sprinkle some on homemake pizza…..the possibilities seem endless.

  6. says

    I’d heard of others grinding meat in a processor but have always been hesitant-didn’t seem legit. Your instructions are simple but informative and take all of the mystery out of it-thanks for sharing!

  7. says

    Thanks for the easy to follow instructions on making sausage. I usually shun sausage because it always seems like “mystery meat,” but I guess if I make it myself I can enjoy the flavor without having to be distracted by the thought of what is really in it.

  8. says

    This is fantastic on ever level! I don’t have the toys to make the sausage, but I’m going to pass it along to my Mum… maybe she’ll share. :) In the meantime, the broccoli sausage pasta is happening. Maybe tonight.


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