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Apr 3, 2010 03:43 PM

Italian Sausage?

Does anyone know if any of the major supermarket chains (Tesco, Waitrose, Asda, Morrison's, etc.) regularly carry Italian-style sausage? I am looking for either the sweet sausage (flavored with fennel) or the hot sausage (flavored with red pepper flakes) that are widely available in the U.S. The grind of the meat tends to be more course than usually found in British sausages.

I once found a "Mediterranean" sausage at Tesco that was a rough approximation, but I have not seen it in Tesco for a couple of years..

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  1. Sainsbury often has a "Sicilian" sausage flavoured with fennel that approximates to the "sweet sausage" I've had in America.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      Thanks! Looking on the Sainsbury website, it does appear their "Sicilian" sausage will work.

      1. re: DavidT

        I've been looking for the Sicilian ones at my local Sainsbury's, but they never have them. Tonight I made some red sauce w/ their Toulouse sausages, which contains:

        "coarsely chopped British Pork and bacon, seasoned with French red wine, fresh garlic and parsley."

        So, not quite the same flavors as Italian sausage (mainly lacking fennel), but not a bad option if they don't have the Sicilian where you are.

        I once bought some sweet Italian sausages at Baldwin's Butchers on Green Lanes in Harringay, and I didn't like them. The flavor seemed weird to me, although now I can't recall why. I really like Baldwin's though, so perhaps I will try them again...I think they also had spicy Italian sausages there.

    2. I can vouch for what I think is one of the best online suppliers going. I've not actually tried any of their sausages, but they're pancetta is 5/5 amazing.

      Meditterranean Direct.

      They have masses of AMAZING stuff at great prices. My particular favourites are their really cheap Carnaroli rice and their coarse ground polenta (perfect for making grits).

      Plug done.

      7 Replies
      1. re: chief1284

        Perhaps a novice question, but how do their risotto rices compare to what you would buy at a supermarket? Are they a superior quality? I notice the Tesco ones are quite a bit cheaper and wondered if it's because they're not the same quality or if it's just down to the supermarkets' buying power.

        1. re: deansa

          (1) They're of vastly superior quality.

          (2) They're also significantly cheaper than the supermakrets. This is my favourite:

          £2.89 for 1 kg of superfino Carnaroli rice is about half the price I've ever seen in supermarkets for any sort of risotto rice. Normally its more like £2-2.50 for 500g. Plus Carnaroli or vialone nano are the rices of choice for great risotto. Arborio is generally considered too starchy for the most refined risottos. I have seen Carnaroli in the Tesco finest section, but at about £2.80 for 500g.

          I'm not plugging Meditteranean Direct because I have anything to do with them, I just recently found them and I'm a bit overexcited about how good they are at the moment! If you're thinking of an order and you want to build towards the magic £40 (or is it £50) for free delivery also get yourself some of this brand of pasta:

          They have loads of varieties in the pasta section, but that brand is the best dried pasta I've ever found. Admittedly you can get cheaper pastas in the supermarket however. De Cecco is the best commonly found dried pasta.

          1. re: chief1284

            Ahh okay, thanks for the info! I'll give them a try sometime soon. I've got a bit of a stash of De Cecco in the cupboard – as you say, I've found it to be the best pasta in the supermarket, too.

        2. re: chief1284

          i'd rather buy freshly made sausage from biggles or the local butcher - the ones imported from italy has preservatives etc which i'd like to avoid if i can.

          do try

          exceptional items and very good olive oil - best deal for 5 litre tins i've seen.

          and agreed with you about de cecco. (barilla olive oil is surprisingly good too).

            1. re: DavidT

              "Biggles" is a pilot and the title character of a series of adventure books written by W. E. Johns.

              It's also the name of a great sausage shop in Marylebone Lane, London:


              1. re: zedman_1

                Thanks for the info. I spend most of my time in northern Scotland when I am in the UK. There is a regional butcher firm (John Munro) there that makes a nice line of sausages, but they do not make an Italian-style sausage.

        3. when I lived in London I too missed them and found it easier to make my own - assuming you don't want the sausage shape ( I always deconstruct mine). lots of recipes on internet and easy assuming you own a magimix or similar. British sausages are too prone to be stuffed with bread, Waitrose being the honourable exception except even there you have to read the fine print. By making your own you are guaranteed 100% meat.

          5 Replies
          1. re: judithuk

            these days, sausages at local butchers/biggles/wholefoods are all meat - no bread/rusk etc

            1. re: judithuk

              "British sausages are too prone to be stuffed with bread, Waitrose being the honourable exception"

              I'd be surprised if Waitrose produced a British sausage that was 100% meat (except perhaps special diet ones). British sausages traditionally include breadcrumbs, rusk or cereal. It's what gives them their particular texture. In a premium quality sausage, you'd expect the meat content to be around 90 -95% - the Sainsbury free range ones I buy are at 95% (and I think this is possibly a little too much, they are very dense - but tasty)

              1. re: Harters

                I agree with Harters, a traditional British sausage needs the rusk or bread crumbs to get the correct texture. Obviously bad quality cheap sausages can have too much filler and not enough meat (and some of it is barely meat - mechanically recovered meat anyone?), but a good quality traditional British sausage will have 80/85% meat. The other important component is the amount of fat in the meat, too little fat and again the texture isn't right with the sausage ending up too dry.

                In the past British sausages fell into disrepute because of the low and poor quality meat content but this has changed significantly over the last years, but I think it is a mistake to look for 100% meat as it will not be a better British sausage than one with the right balance of rusk/bread crumbs (Howler: I note the Biggles ones specify no rusk or bread crumbs as they are gluten free, but I wonder if they add a vegetable filler to get the texture right in their breakfast sausages?).

                Italian (and many other) sausages do contain 100% meat (including fat) and this gives then their distinct texture; much more solid than the traditional British banger.

                I personally enjoy and appreciate the merits of both types.

                1. re: PhilD

                  "British sausages fell into disrepute because of the low and poor quality meat content"

                  Problem is still too easily discovered, Phil. I did some sausage research earlier in the year to support a "review of the "Full English" in Tenerife" that I was submitting to a tourist website.

                  I start from the premise that the "full brekkie" is made or broken by the quality of the sausage - you can get away with less than premium bacon and other ingredients but you cannot hide a cheap and nasty pre-browned catering sausage. As with many caffs in Britain & Ireland, many Brit & Irish owned caffs in Tenerife rely on the cheap frozen sausage. UK law permits a supplier to describe the product as a "pork sausage" with as little as 42% pork - of which a large proportion may be fat or mechanically recovered meat. Products descibed simply as "sausage" can include other meats and, put bluntly, any old crap. It's the old issue of catering to a budget not to a quality.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    I second the sentiment here.

                    I don't want to stand idly by while the British sausage is torn to pieces. I really think British sausages are some of the best you can find anywhere in the world. I love the extra meaty continental types, I love the rusky British types. They both have distinct qualities, both equally commendable. I actually think the British sausage's texture from rusk makes it more amenable to common everyday usage.

                    Put it this way - just get good quality sausages from any western country and you're in the money one way or another. These 40% 10p a sausage rubbish in lots of supermarkets, just help leave them in the dustbin of history by avoiding.

                    Oh and actually to add further to the argument - I remember Heston's perfect bangers and mash, and he decided rusk was an essential feature for a British sausage.

              2. Always wondered about where to possibly find Italian sausages. I miss the hot sausage so much from home (fry with onions and peppers, add tomato and some pasta and voila! dinner). Thank you for asking this (and thanks to all the responses) I am definitely going to give those Sainsbury's ones a try.

                Now if only I could find decent Mexican style chorizo...

                6 Replies
                1. re: wahwahweewee

                  Do you mean fresh chorizo as opposed to the Spanish semi-dried stuff? I can get it from a Colombian butcher's stall near me in Brixton market. You can also stock up on proper Italian sausages while you're there, as there are a couple of delis that sell them.

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    Yes, exactly. For some unknown reason, in my head I always call it 'raw' chorizo. But yes, fresh chorizo is exactly it. I live in Belfast and have searched for it to no avail. I even tried to make my own but it was an absolute nightmare both in process and taste.

                    1. re: wahwahweewee

                      Have you tried "Sawers" in the Fountain Centre, College St, Belfast?

                      My understanding is Mexican Chorizo is different from Spanish, which in turn is different to South American. In Spain you get of varieties including sweet or hot (depending on the type of paprika), and cooked, semi-cooked and uncooked (fresh). Even with the cooked ones some are best served sliced others texture works best when cooked in a dish.

                      As it is a highly regionalised food the best advice is to try what you can get locally (probably Spanish) and find a style you like.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        Thanks Phil! Yeah, to be honest, my chorizo knowledge is very lacking but I have not seen any fresh varieties of chorizo in Belfast, be them of the Spanish, South American or Mexican persuasion. Sawers is the greatest shop and I didn't see any there last time but I will check again!

                  2. re: wahwahweewee

                    WHy not make your own

                    Homemade Spicy Italian Sausage
                    Serves: 80
                    • 9kg minced pork shoulder and belly (6kg shoulder and 3kg belly)
                    • 2 tablespoons salt
                    • 4 tablespoons garlic salt
                    • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
                    • 8 tablespoons ground paprika
                    • 250ml vegetable oil
                    • 1 tablespoon anise seed
                    • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
                    • 3 tablespoons dried chilli flakes
                    Prep:45min › Extra time:1day chilling › Ready in:1day45min
                    1. Place the minced pork into a large bowl. Season with salt, garlic salt, black pepper and paprika. In a blender or food processor, blend together the oil, anise seed, fennel seed and chilli flakes. Mix everything into the minced pork until well blended. Refrigerate for 24 hours to let flavors blend. Bag and freeze in portions that suit your needs.

                    1. re: fivestarcarl

                      Presumably all you then need are the sausage skins and one of those stuffing machine thingies? Is there an advantage to freezing the sausagemeat, before making the sausages - as opposed to making them up and then freezing them ready to use?

                  3. Hope you have long since found what you're looking for but if not, you might consider a trip to G Gazzano & Sons in Farringdon. Family run Italian deli which sells some excellent Italian sausages.


                    This slightly dated but still useful TimeOut feature on London's best sausages may also be of interest: