I've been using my sausage machine with wanton abandon lately, making breakfast sausage and now Italian sausage. It's amazingly simple, but a little time-consuming because you do have to cut up the pork into small cubes to prepare it for the sausage machine.
The result is amazingly tender and flavorful sausage with just a few seasonings and fennel seeds. Here's the recipe:
2 pounds of boneless pork butt, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1-1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Toast fennel seeds in pan on stove for about 3 minutes until fragrant and slightly browned. Remove from pan and place on dish to cool. Then pulverize them in a mortar and pestle or grind them in a spice grinder. Combine the fennel seeds in a medium bowl with the salt, pepper, and chopped parsley; then add the diced pork and mix. Refrigerate covered for 1 hour; remove and put through the sausage grinder. Make patties or cook as small chunks in any recipe that incorporates Italian sausage.
Note: I'm not partial to sausage links since I don't like the casing, so I just use the bulk sausage in pasta recipes or sauce.