In my “free” time, I have become a mystery shopper. Getting paid for going shopping—why didn’t I think of this before?!?

It’s actually a lot of work. You have to follow a scenario to the letter, answer a complicated and detailed questionnaire, and write up a report about the entire experience according to their standards. And then you get graded. On my first assignment, I got a 6 out of 6 possible points for “punctuality and consistency with the assignment,” “content,” “extent and precision of comments,” and “grammar, spelling, and punctuation.” Super! But I only got a 2 out of 6 points for “completeness of the attachments.”

“What??” said my ego, “how could they only give me two points!? I deserve the full point score.”
“Oh come on!” said the slacker, “It’s not on your résumé. You’re just doing it for fun.”
“I need to check what I missed,” said my ego, leafing through the instructions.
“Who cares.”
“Yes, I knew I included everything they wanted!” (appalled)
“What the heck does it matter?”
“I should call them.”
“You’re not serious, are you?”
“Yes, I am. They have some nerve giving me a 2!”
“You’re kidding, right?”

The ego won. And I called. Apparently, I had included the attachment as a .pdf instead of a .jpg.

“WTF?! A four-point deduction for THAT! Where were those instructions? I don’t see that anywhere.”
“Oh, shut up.”

So, anyway, I got over myself and went on my next assignment. It was to go grocery shopping at a “Club” store, usually reserved for those in the restaurant and food business. I studied up, made my list, then, when I got there was totally overwhelmed. I had no idea what to buy and ended up spending twice as much as I had planned because 1) the shopping calculator in my brain completely overheated and 2) everything was in XXL packages.

I ended up getting what I thought was 6 lbs of pork—it ended up being 10 lbs because I hadn’t read correctly.  That didn’t matter. It was exactly the right amount for the sausages we had planned to make with it. And it was super quality and very lean.

Sweet Italian sausages

Sweet Italian sausages

So today we made sausages! Hot and sweet Italian sausages—partially sponsored by my agency.

Hot Italian sausages

Hot Italian sausages

Delicious! I must say, being a mystery shopper is not the “wurst” thing in the world.

Hot Italian Sausage
Yields 32
How to make your own sausages. Also delicious simply as patties if you don't stuff the meat into casings.
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Prep Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr
165 calories
2 g
60 g
7 g
21 g
2 g
84 g
412 g
0 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 165
Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 2g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 60mg
Sodium 412mg
Total Carbohydrates 2g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 0g
Protein 21g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 5 lbs pork (pork shoulder, ground)
  2. 1 cup cold red wine
  3. 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  4. 5 tsp salt
  5. 1 tbsp garlic powder or-4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
  7. 2 1/2 tsp cayenne
  8. 5 tbsp fennel seed
  9. 2 1/2 tsp crushed chili peppers
  10. 5 tbsp paprika
  1. Combine all, mix well & stuff into hog casing.
Adapted from The Spicy Sausage
Adapted from The Spicy Sausage
Now, how do I become a restaurant tester? A girl’s gotta have career goals….

P.S. You can find step-by-step sausage-making instructions, as well as an equipment list and helpful tips at The Spicy

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3 Responses to Not the wurst thing in the world (Homemade Italian sausages)

  1. Karen says:

    Wow! I am totally impressed! You go girl, I have complete faith in you. Big hug, k

  2. Amdnarg says:

    Looks super! What kind of pork did you use? Any ratio of fat to meat? Did you buy it solid or ground? Is there some way to do it if you can’t get hog casing?

  3. Bouqui says:

    I used a whole pork shoulder and trimmed it of as much fat as possible. Then I put it through the meat grinder myself. Pork shoulder is estimated as 12%. Based on the amount of fat that drains out, I would estimate that it is somewhere between 7-10% fat. Sausages need a good amount of fat for good taste and mouthfeel (standard is 22-25% fat). Hog casings are available at most butcher’s stores. However, you can also form the sausages into patties and fry without the casings. Thanks for your interest. 🙂

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