braciole di pollo – the sausage

Late last week I was reading the blog of food author Michael Ruhlman, a favorite of mine, and he had a video post on how to make sausage. While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert by any means, I feel am a seasoned sausage maker.

My cold smoked barbecue sausage is easily my favorite cased creation. It takes nearly two days to create a batch, but when they grill up with that beautiful mahogany color it makes it all worth while.

Still, I’m always up to see if I can learn any new tricks, and as I was watching his video the sausage recipe he included in the post caught my eye – Chicken Sausage with Basil and Tomatoes.

All of a sudden inspiration struck and evil plans immediately began constructing themselves in my head. I decided that I would cash in some of my contest winnings and experiment with a sausage recipe based on my prize winning chicken dish.

With the exception of a German weisswurst I made for Christmas a few years back I have only ever used pork as the base for my sausages. Since I haven’t made any sausage in a few months I was intrigued by the possibilities of using chicken.

I set out to build my base ingredient list and decided that instead of using chicken skin or substituting pork back fat that I would use pancetta, which would also replace the proscuitto in the braciole di pollo recipe. Next I eliminated the bread crumbs because they made no sense to include and I substituted ricotta salata (you could characterize it as Italian feta) for the fontina cheese.

After procuring all the ingredients, I cubed the meat (the chicken and the pancetta) and seasoned it with salt, fresh ground black pepper and finely minced garlic overnight. Father’s Day afternoon I mixed in the remaining ingredients I had planned and ground it up.

With all the ingredients mixed together and ground, I cooked up a quick patty to test my seasoning and to ensure my concept was as good in practice as it appeared to be in theory.

The seasoning was perfect and the results were phenomenal.


4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
1 pound pancetta, cubed *
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
1 cup arugula, chopped, tightly packed
1/2 cup parmesan reggiano, grated
1/2 cup ricotta salata, grated
1/2 cup golden raisins, macerated in 1/4 cup white wine
Zest and juice of a lemon


  • Cube the chicken and pancetta, then season with the salt, pepper and garlic (allow to sit overnight, if possible)
  • Remove mixture from refrigerator and mix in the remaining ingredients
  • Grind using a fine plate, then fry up a test patty in a frying pan with some oil to test seasoning and adjust accordingly
  • Return ground mixture to refrigerator for about an hour
  • Case the mixture using a medium size hog casing **

* If you don’t consume pork for dietary or religious purposes you can substitute the pancetta for beef fat.

** You can also either not case the mixture and keep it loose, or substitute natural sheep casings or even synthetic ones, such as collagen casings.

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About PJ Mullen

PJ Mullen is a dad, husband, amateur chef and prolific air drummer blogging about his life as a dad, his culinary adventures and anything else that is on his mind. He mans the captain's chair at Real Men Drive Minivans and is a contributor at Digital Dads.