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Odd sausage question

  • b

I have a house guest staying with me for a few days. She is avoiding all nuts and seeds for digestive reasons, but loves Italian sausages. I know it's a stretch, but figured I'd check and see if anyone knows of a source for fennel-less sausages.

I know I could make them myself easily enough on my Kitchenaid, but I'm looking for quick post-work mid-week meals. Thanks!

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  1. Normally in the supermarkets, "sweet" sausage means fennel and "hot" means no fennel for the store brands.

    Check with the meat manager re. ingredients.

    3 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst

      Thanks. I suspect that is often the case, but I noticed in Whole Foods yesterday that both kinds had fennel, and my favorite Bianco's hots definitely have fennel.

      I guess it's a matter of checking with each store.

      1. re: bear

        I think you're right. If there's one near you, try the Market Basket. For the summer, they have a bunch of store-brand varieties.

      2. re: pinehurst

        Market Basket at least has Sweet with and without fennel, and is marked as such.

      3. Fennel is part of what makes it Italian.. would she go for something alternative, like brats or andouille? Will she eat anything made using mustard seed, like mustard powder, which I think is in andouille? Tough to get flavorful sausage if all the flavorings are off limits..

        1. Formaggio in Cambridge had some homemade garlic sausage over the weekend that didn't have fennel in it. It also didn't have hot pepper flakes which I'd think your friend also wouldn't want if she's avoiding nuts and seeds for digestive reasons (and would usually be in hot Italian sausage). It wasn't far off from an Italian sausage and I can vouch for the fact that it was tasty!

          1. You have to go to Newton (Nonatum) to DePasquale's
            for the very best Italian sausages in the Boston Area and they do not add fennel. I don't care for fennel in my Italian sausages and have always sought out no fennel sausages. Here is a link.


            8 Replies
              1. re: Science Chick

                3rd - De Pasquales are not only excellent they know exactly what's in every sausage type they offer.

              2. re: Berheenia

                Depasquales does use fennel in its sweet sausage: if you're in the store while they're making it, the fennel smell is unmistakable. In fact, I distinctly remember remarking upon it to the woman who runs the counter the first time I smelled it, because I hadn't realized the sweet sausage had fennel. She confirmed that it does.

                On the other hand, I've had them make up batches of different sausages while I wait (say, if I need five pounds of hot and they only have three on hand), so it *may* be possible to request a no-fennel blend. Depends on when they add the fennel to the seasoning blend, I guess.

                Regardless, Depasquales is the only place I buy sausages from.

                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                  Ever try their steak tips? I haven't yet, but they seem to be fairly popular.

                  1. re: ceb

                    Definitely call ahead- they may very well make a batch without fennel for you if you buy a good quantity.

                    I have tried their steak tips. I don't ask too many questions about where there beef is from but it smells very clean and fresh and the flavor is wonderful.

                    That place smells wonderful and I usually have a problem with most commercial meat smells these days. (Can't stand the odor of commercial pork at all.) I figure my nose is telling me this is the good stuff.

                    1. re: ceb

                      I have occasionally looked at them with interest, but I've never pulled the trigger. Perhaps now that grilling season is underway, I might finally pick up a couple pounds.

                    2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                      Perhaps they could use ground fennel seed instead of whole....?

                      1. re: Science Chick

                        I think they actually do! I've never seen a whole fennel seed in a Depasquales sausage, which is why I was surprised to find that they use fennel at all.

                  2. Not that it's even remotely ANY of my business, or place to say it, but if she is avoiding them because of diverticulitis, the current thinking is that nuts/seeds shouldn't provoke it, unlike what was thought before.

                    I second (4th?) DiPasquale's :)

                    Also, how about some of the seedless Polish sausages like the Kielbasi at Baltic Deli on the South Boston/Dorchester line?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Prav

                      Hey, Prav, thanks for the info. She is pretty up on the latest research, as is her doctor, but after some pretty scary times while eating a healthy, varied diet they decided to give the seedless thing a go for a while, wondering if she is perhaps particularly vulnerable. I have some of the same issues but eat pretty much anything.

                      She's skeptical, but willing to go for it so while she's in the area and I'm doing the cooking I'm looking to get her favorites locally that fill the bill.

                      1. re: bear

                        Elimination diets are a very good idea. Good luck to her!! She's a lucky gal to have such a chowish, supportive host. :)

                    2. The Butcher Shop in the South End is another possibility.


                      1. The Butcher Shop is pretty spendy ....

                        Personally I would call up the Irish butcher in Adams village (butcher shop market, I think but we just call them the Irish ) and ask them. They make their own sausages, which are very good but they tend to take "liberties " with traditional recipes so theirs might not have fennel. Or, since they are super duper nice, they mite make some for you without it.

                        I say this often but the best sausages I've had pretty much ever come from the Smokehouse in Norwell. You mite call them too.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          Agree with the Butcher Shop in Adams Village. I love their curry chicken sausages and when I've called and they didn't have any, they offered to make them. So maybe they would make some without fennel.

                        2. I know that Savenor's makes all their sausages in-house, so I am sure they would be able to tell you which had fennel/nuts and which did not. Not sure if either of their locations would be convenient to you, though, but they are my go-to place for meat-related questions!

                          1. I would check with Dulock for sure.

                            1. I know how you can get off on a technicality. Luganega sausage is an Italian sausage. It is a milder type sausage and as far as I know there is no fennel in it

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: RochCusine

                                "Luganega" sausage, eh? The Greeks have something called "loukaniko". Interesting. I am going to have to try it and compare. Fascinating!

                                1. re: Scruffy The Cat

                                  Luganega is an Italian sausage, usually finer-grained than the very coarse-ground Italian sausage we're more familiar with. It's often made as one giant length rather than as links, and the butcher cuts off the amount you want. The name does seem like it's from the same root as "loukaniko," but I don't think it's seasoned the same as Greek loukaniko.

                                  The name apparently derives from Lucania, the Roman name for the region in southern Italy now known as Basilicata.

                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                    How is it seasoned and where can I buy some? ;-) I need to do some research. ;-)

                                    1. re: Allstonian

                                      J Pace & Sons has this sausage, spelled differently. No fennel.

                                      I would add that Market Basket often has fresh kielbasa, which IIRC does not have fennel in it (but check the package).

                                  2. re: RochCusine

                                    I love both varieties (and they're very similar; often seasoned with citrus zest and nutmeg/cinnamon), but I've seen both with fennel, too. I would always ask....chances are if you're getting either the loukaniko or the luganega, the guy/gal who made it is onsite and can tell you what is/isn't in it.

                                    1. re: hiddenboston

                                      I guess I am looking to buy me some odd sausage!

                                    2. Sorry for the late update, everyone, and thanks so much for all your suggestions. Since things have been a bit crazy I've only managed to check out a couple.

                                      DePascuale does indeed use powdered fennel in all their saugages, so that is a great suggestion. I have a few pounds in the freezer for her. The car smelled fantastic with all of those sausages inside! The hot sausage uses crushed red pepper with seeds so that's a no-go.

                                      I happened to be at McKinnon's in Davis Sq. and noticed that they have both "sweet fennel sausage" and "sweet sausage" without seeds, so that works too. There were a few bone fragments in the sausages I bought, though, but they were tasty.

                                      I have yet to try Formaggio and Market Basket, but will check them out when I have a chance. Thanks again!