I have a crazy good Hot Italian Sausage sausage recipe I adapted and perfected after a few times:
A variation of: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Hot-Italian-Sausage/
(From an old retired man that used to run a very much liked Italian restaurant.)
1 pound pork butt, coarsely ground & chilled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ teaspoons paprika
1 ½ teaspoons fennel seed
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 small star anise (or substitute in anise seed)
[One way my recipe differs is I add more fennel seed--the original recipe did not have enough. And the one guy that commented and corrected this fennel seed issue, his didn't have enough salt and paprika in it.]
Roughly grind up star anise first alone in a spice grinder. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients, then grind shortly and coarsely.
Add the ground up mixture & olive oil to coarsely ground pork butt then mix/knead well.
I like to make little marble sized meatballs and fry them up in olive oil. Cook them through. Slice in half after cooked if you like for a most delicious pizza topping. Or add to spaghetti!
They are so heavenly, give it try!
I make up a quart size jar of the dry ground ingredients, enough for 30 pounds of Hot Italian Sausage. I then just go by weight. I measure in grams the weight of the ground pork, then multiply that by 3.75% (it turns out to be) to get the weight of the pre-made seasoning to add. I multiply the weight of the ground pork by 2.4% to get the number of grams of olive oil to add. Makes it super quick and simple to make sausage.. I do this kinda thing for chorizo and breakfast sausages as well (i.e. by weight , and pre-made seasonings in large mason jars).
By the way, fennel seed can be purchased cheaply at your local Asian market. Same with star anise (or anise seed). Should be affordable at Whole Foods Market as well (the bins where you take and weigh what you need).