There's a wealth of food showcased in HBO's genre-defining classic The Sopranos, but few (if any) surround a real, actual human romance. That's right, the short-but-passionate affair between a noticeably thinner Vito and his mystery-fireman-studmuffin Jim "Johnny Cakes". Labor under the delusion that these star-crossed lovers won't meet a tragic end as we share in their shared New England indulgence, johnny cakes with housemade sausage.
4 pounds pork butt
2-3 tsp fresh sage
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
½ Tbsp maple syrup
A shake of marjoram
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup water, boiling
⅓ cup milk, room temperature
Maple syrup and butter, for serving
Start by cutting your pork butt into 1 inch cubes and then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
Next, finely chop your sage, thyme, and rosemary and place in a mixing bowl. In the mixing bowl you can also add the salt, pepper, brown sugar, maple syrup, marjoram, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, and smoked paprika. Stir to combine.
Remove pork from the freezer and add to the mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix everything together until it’s all well incorporated.
Using your meat grinder, put the pork through at the grind of your choice, making sure the meat stays cold so it doesn’t clog the grinder.
Once all of your meat is ground, remove sausage casings from the packaging, rinse the salt and off of them and then soak in warm water for 45 minutes.
When the casings are ready, thread them onto your sausage stuffer, leaving about 6 inches off of the end. Start slowly by regulating how much you’re putting through until you get the hang of it and then slowly pick up speed.
Once all of the meat is cased, figure out your desired sausage length, and pinch, squeeze and turn to make links.
Fry the links up in a pan on a medium-high heat until cooked through.
In a mixing bowl combine 1 cup of cornmeal along with 1 cup of boiling water. Stir to combine before adding ⅓ cup of room temperature milk. If needed, add more milk until you get a thick pancake batter consistency.
Add some bacon fat to a pan over medium-high heat and then add your desired amount of batter for perfect pancakes.
Don’t flip until the bottoms have turned a golden brown. Flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes (these take longer to cook than pancakes).
Once they’re done, plate them up with some butter on top, some maple syrup, and some of your homemade sausages.
Serve and enjoy!