When it comes to meat pizza toppings, pepperoni is king. But have you stopped to think what might be the second? According to Foodler, it’s sausage — usually of the Italian variety. While Italian sausage has its place toward the top of the meat pizza toppings list, one of the best things about it is its versatility — it has applications in a wide variety of dishes. For restaurant chains, Italian sausage is simply too big of an opportunity to pass up. It deserves a spot on your menu.
What Qualifies as Italian Sausage?
Before deciding how to best utilize Italian sausage for your menu or how you’ll go about customizing it, you need to be aware of how it’s defined. After all, there is breakfast sausage, regular pork sausage, regular beef sausage, whole hog sausage… the list goes on. What makes a sausage an Italian sausage?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA), "’Italian Sausage Products’ are cured or uncured sausages containing at least 85% meat, or a combination of meat and fat, with the total fat content constituting not more than 35% of the finished product. It contains salt, pepper, fennel and/or anise and no more than 3% water. Optional ingredients permitted in Italian Sausages are spices (including paprika) and flavorings, red or green peppers, onions, garlic and parsley, sugar, dextrose and corn syrup.”
Types of Dishes with Italian Sausage
When it comes to determining an Italian sausage dish for your menu, you have to think outside the pizza box. Most of your patrons are likely millennials who love diverse flavors, so it’s important to mix things up. Here are just a few types of non-pizza dishes featuring Italian Sausage you can put on your menu:
- Soups, like Italian Wedding Soup
- Calzones and sandwiches
- Pasta dishes, like Lasagna or Bolognese
- Chili and stews
- Potato, pepper and sausage bakes
Whatever dish you choose, customizing the Italian sausage component is essential for standing out in the mind of the consumer.
Customizing Italian Sausage with a Custom Food Manufacturer
Contrary to popular belief, all Italian sausage doesn’t have to be created equal. There are a variety of ways you can customize the ingredient for your restaurant chain. This is even if easier if you consider outsourcing Italian sausage to a custom food manufacturer (CFM) instead of creating it in-house. Here are a few of the ways a CFM can customize Italian sausage:
- Shape: Consumers love a product that appears homemade and a CFM can give your Italian sausage that appearance. By using a pinching technique, they can make the sausages look irregular and essentially hand-made. Size can also be adjusted.
- Taste: Whether you want a more pronounced fennel flavor, anise flavor or simply want a combination that stands up to acidic tomato sauce, a CFM can formulate a recipe that meets your specifications. To really stand out, you want a flavorful sausage that is unique to your restaurant.
- Texture: You also may not want the same texture for your Italian sausage in every dish. For example, the sausage in a soup might need to be softer than the sausage in a sandwich. Through R&D and testing, a CFM can pinpoint the texture that works for your menu item.
Yes, Italian sausage belongs on your menu. By partnering with a custom food manufacturer, you’ll be able to capitalize on its popularity and take your menu to the next level.