Cudighi is an Italian sausage that originated in northern Italy and is seasoned with sweet spices, but is now primarily made and served in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. You’ll see it on the menu of many mom and pop restaurants and bars that serve burgers and sandwiches. If you’re a “Yooper,” you’re most certainly familiar with cudighi. You’ve had it in a sandwich with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, on pizza, or in other dishes that would traditionally be make with Italian sausage. An old friend of mine was famous for making cudighi sausage in a tomato gravy served with polenta. Italian immigrants in northern Michigan began making “Gudighi” in the 1930s. It is apparently derived from Cotechino, a northern Italian fresh sausage make from pork, fatback, and pork rind. Some places add a little heat to their recipe, most likely with red pepper flakes. Since Cudighi is not available to any of us Michiganders in the Lower Peninsula, my friend Jane and I decided to make our own. There are a couple recipes on line as well as commentary by one individual who claims to have the “original” recipe for cudighi, but has been sworn to secrecy and cannot disclose the ingredients. This was our first attempt. We did not use casing but you certainly could. The result was pretty darn good. We each bought about seven pounds of pork butt and set about to make our cudighi. You’ll need a good electric meat grinder or a manual grinder and a strong arm. Meat should be cut into strips and semi-frozen before you put it through the grinder so that it doesn’t gum up.
Ground pork butt
1/2 cup of dry red wine per 2 pounds of ground pork
3 T kosher salt
1 T fresh ground black pepper
1 T nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp mace
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 T garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Whisk spice blend and use 2 T of spices and 1/2 cup of red wine per 2 pounds of ground pork.
Work the spices and wine into the meat with your hands. Once the spices and wine have been worked into the meat, cover and refrigerate for two or three days. We divided the cudighi into one pound packages and sealed them for freezing.
Of course I had to cook some up so we could sample the end result. I made small paddies for sliders and fried them on a cast iron griddle. This sausage recipe may require a little tweaking but we were pretty pleased with the end result.
Choose your toppings. I used mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, tomato and red onion.
The only thing left to do is assemble and enjoy.
Serve with your favorite side. Chips, potato salad, baked beans. Mangia!
NOTE: If you want your cudighi kicked up, add a few pepper flakes. You may want to increase or decrease the amount of spice blend. This sausage is different from what most of us think of as traditional Italian sausage because of the ”sweet” spices like cloves and cinnamon and nutmeg. The cudighi that I get from the Chatham Co-op, in my little UP home town, has more heat. In the end it’s all a matter of personal taste.
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