Italian Wild Boar Liver Sausages

4.94 from 15 votes
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Uncooked mazzafegati sausage links
Photo by Hank Shaw

This is what I do with the livers of the deer and wild pigs I shoot. Mazzafegati is a soft, sweetish liver sausage from Umbria, in central Italy. Think of it as a mild-tasting version of Mexican chorizo.

I first made a version of this in 2006 when I shot my first wild boar, and it was good, but not great. So I researched the sausage a bit more and found that a) it was supposed to be soft; and b) it cries out for wood smoke.

If you’ve ever worked with liver before, you may have noticed that the organ is very, very moist. Wet, even. And while moisture is critical in sausage-making, too much will ruin a batch. One way to deal with the extra moisture is to whip a sausage into an emulsion, like a hot dog. Another is to just go with it, which is what I did.

One of my great epiphanies as a cook over the years has been to bend to the will of the food.

Cooks — chefs, mostly — who expend great effort and time to make food submit to their will are the same sort of people who think you can force right angles on Nature. You can, for a time, and the results can look pretty. But Nature always wins in the end, so I find it a more natural thing to work with Nature, not against her. The food knows what it wants to be; it’s your job to bring out what lies within.

Flavorwise, they are rich. I used a fair bit of pork fat to cut the lean wild boar meat and the liver, then I added pine nuts to the mix, which made them even richer. But the black pepper, ground coriander seeds and a lot of orange zest — I actually used the zest from mineola tangerines — cut into that richness.

This liver sausage is wonderful simply skewered and grilled over almond wood, then served as is, or served with sautéed honeyed onions. They would also go well as a bruschetta topping, or crumbled with  mustard greens and pasta.

New to making sausage? You can find my detailed tutorial on how to make sausages at home here.

Uncooked mazzafegati sausage links
4.94 from 15 votes

Mazzafegati, Italian Liver Sausage

This is what to do when life gives you livers. Mazzafegati are an unusual fresh sausage from Umbria, in central Italy, and they are delicious roasted over an open fire, especially a wood fire. You can use domestic pork and and pork liver for this, but I use wild boar; it gives the sausages an extra punch. Make sure everything is very cold when you make these sausages — liver is very moist, and will bleed when ground.
Course: Cured Meat
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 20 links
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 1 pound pork liver, partially frozen
  • 1 pound pork fat
  • 3 pounds pork shoulder
  • 36 grams kosher salt, about 3 level tablespoons
  • 55 grams pine nuts, about a half cup, toasted
  • 30 grams sugar, about 2 level tablespoons
  • 15 grams ground coriander seed, about 2 teaspoons
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5 grams black pepper, about 1 tablespoon
  • Zest from 3 tangerines or oranges
  • 1/2 cup sweet white wine, such as Muscat
  • Hog casings


  • Chill the meat until it is almost frozen by putting it in the freezer for an hour or so. Take out some hog casings and set in a bowl of warm water.
  • Chop meat and fat into 1 inch chunks. Combine all the spices with the meat (except the wine), mix well with your hands and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour.
  • Grind through your meat grinder (you can use a food processor in a pinch, but you will not get a fine texture) twice, first using the coarse die, then the fine one. If your room is warm, set the bowl for the ground meat into another bowl of ice to keep it cold.
  • Add the sweet wine and mix thoroughly either using a Kitchenaid on low for 60-90 seconds or with your (very clean) hands. Mixing is important to get the sausage to bind properly. Once it is mixed well, put it back in the fridge.
  • Stuff the sausage into the casings all at once. Twist off links by pinching the sausage down and twisting it, first in one direction, and then with the next link, the other direction. (This video shows how I do it.) Or you could tie them off with butcher’s string.
  • Hang the sausages in a cool place for up to a day (the colder it is, the longer you can hang them). If it is warm out — warmer than 70F — hang for one hour. Once they have dried a bit, put in the fridge until needed. They will keep for at least a week in the fridge.
  • If you are freezing the sausages, wait a day before doing so. This will tighten up the sausages and help them keep their shape in the deep-freeze.


Calories: 330kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 118mg | Sodium: 750mg | Potassium: 240mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 4910IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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  1. Hey Hank,

    Just missed you when you were in La Crosse, WI! We live not too far from there. I was wondering if you could make this sausage with deer or goat liver and meat. We just slaughtered some goats and I’m looking for good ways to use the liver.

    If you did use deer/goat meat, how much pork fat would you want to add in? Going for about a 25% fat content? Thanks!

  2. I grew up with my grand parents making liver sausage and hanging them in the house for a couple of days before cooking. They use to also cook them with an oinon called jubolens i don’t know if it the right spelling . When you took the peel off they were very sticky .and they were very bitter but really good with the sausage. I havebeen looking for an easy way to make them myself I still have my grand mothers sausage maker

  3. I just tried this recipe yesterday using some bison liver. The sausages are in the fridge and will get packaged tonight. We fried up some of the sausage meat in a patty, it was very nice! The kids liked it also, I am looking forward to cooking these over some hickory.

  4. Hank,
    I’ve been looking for a way to get liver into my family’s diet and sausage seems to be a great idea. The best, and possibly only way for my girls to eat it is by masking the taste somewhat. I have two questions:
    1. Can beef liver be used or is it too strong? I have easy access to it.
    2. Are the pine nuts there for flavor or for texture? Can they be substituted?

    1. Kevin: Yes on beef liver, but calf’s liver is better. Pine nuts are there for both. Use walnuts if you can’t get pine nuts.

  5. I made this with venison liver, heart and a few venison scrapes, plus a Boston butt which weighed about 4 lbs for a total of a 15 lb. batch. I left the spice mix alone and scaled it up to 15 lbs. Just cut back on the tangerine zest some and i used Clementines. This is an awesome sausage! It ranks right up there with Boerewors and Italian wine and cheese as one of my favorites. The end result tastes like rich beef rather than liver. Thank you for the recipe.

  6. I put apple chunks with cinnamon in and its seems to quiet the gamey taste. Sows seem to taste better.

  7. The best deer liver recipe I’ve seen! I used venison shoulder and pork fat, substituted pecans for pine nuts and threw in a few dried cranberries (I read elsewhere the Umbrians sometimes include raisins in the sweeter version so figured what the hey). Smoked over pecan and stuffed into sweet peppers, delicious. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Hank, these sausages sound amazing! I love wild boar, and though I have never heard of these particular sausages I would gladly wolf several of these down with some of your zinfandel! 🙂

  9. Hola Hank!
    You keep on surprising me boy! Hunting instead of going to the market to buy the meat, and making your own sausages… these are really exotic things to me 😀

    I wonder… why almond wood?

  10. Well, kick my skepticism down the trail! I don’t care a lot for liver, and after having liver pudding and many other such delights forced down my neck as a kid, I didn’t think I’d care for this stuff… but I’m glad I pushed my preconceptions aside and gave it a go, because this stuff was great!

    Definitely rich, but not at all “liver-y”.

    Good stuff, Hank!

  11. Jamie: In my experience I rarely see parasites in wild critter livers — other than rabbits and some fish. And besides, I grind up and cook the heck out of my liver sausages, so everything will die. That said, I have never seen anything odd-looking.

    Adele: They’d be a bit rich to eat a whole string!

  12. These look incredible. I love liver sausage – give me a loaf of crusty bread, and I could probably polish off an entire string in one sitting. 🙂

  13. This looks awesome.
    Hank, in your experience, how diligent do we need to be in looking for parasites in the livers of swine and cervids? (Or any of the other organ meats for that matter.)