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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

One of the things I love about cooking is that I never run out of new and interesting things to try. Making sausage has been on my list for a long time, but somehow it only recently made it to the top of the list. If you have a meat grinder, it is so very easy. The best part is that you can then tailor your sausage to your exact liking! Its great because you can mix together the seasoning and then cook a small bit and sample it before committing yourself to multiple pounds of the stuff.

I have an old fashioned meat grinder (although to be honest, I'm not sure I could tell you where it is right this second), but I also have the grinder attachment for my KitchenAid. I found the grinder attachment worked fairly well, provided that you use partially frozen meat when grinding. Unfortunately, I found the sausage stuffer add-on for the KitchenAid to be horrible. I ended up making a few cute little sausages, but - as far as I'm concerned - it wasn't worth the time and frustration of making links using my mixer. It just didn't feed properly... mainly because the food pusher does not fit snugly into the hopper. If you're darned and determined to make links, you'll want to look into a dedicated sausage stuffer (like this one), which can be found for less than a hundred bucks.

Anyway... so, I purchased a big ol' Boston butt roast. That's pork, in case you didn't know. And it's not butt. I've always wondered why the heck they call the shoulder the butt. All it does is cause confusion, but now you know, right?

Boston butt is nicely marbled, which is what you want for making sausage. Remember, there's a reason sausage tastes so good, and it's not because it's healthy for you! You do, however, want to cut away the major chunks of fat and connective tissue. There's plenty of marbling in a Boston butt and the extra gristle and fat can bog down the grinder. Cut the roast into approximately one inch squares. Place a Sil-Pat or Super Parchment sheet on a sheet tray and lay the pieces out on it so they are one layer thick. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. When you are ready to make sausage, let the meat sit on the counter until it is about half thawed. (Or, you could only freeze until half frozen... it depends on your timeline). Run the meat through your grinder using the coarse grinding disk, if you have an option.

Once the meat is ground, the rest is quick and easy. Mix together the seasoning and then sprinkle it over the meat. Stir completely. Then form it into small patties. I made mine about 3 inches across. Keep in mind that they'll shrink a bit when cooked. Place the patties in a single layer on the baking sheet with the Super Parchment or Sil-Pat (to allow easy removal once frozen). Try to form the patties so that they are a little thinner in the middle than on the outside edges. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze them until they are rock hard. Remove from the tray and place in and air tight container.

When you are ready to cook, simply place the number of frozen patties you want in a lightly oiled pan over medium-high heat. Cover it and keep an eye on it. As soon as you hear some good sizzle going on in there, reduce the heat to medium-low. After about six minutes, turn the patties over to cook the other side. Pierce the sausage about halfway through to allow the excess grease to escape. Cook another 5-6 minutes of the second side, until the sausage is cooked through.

Homemade Breakfast Sausage
Yield: 2 pounds

2 pounds Boston butt pork roast
2 tsp table salt
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Trim the roast of excess fat and connective tissue. Cut into one inch chunks. Freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan. Either freeze solid and then remove from freezer ahead of when you want to make sausage or freeze only until about half frozen. Grind half frozen meat with a coarse grinding plate.

Mix the seasonings together in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the ground meat and mix thoroughly. Form small patties so that they are thinner in the middle than at the edge. Place on a Sil-Pat or Super Parchment on a sheet pan and freeze until solid, then transfer to an air tight container. Sausages can be cooked directly from the freezer. Start over medium-high heat in a covered pan. As soon as you hear a decent amount of sizzle, turn down the heat to medium-low. Cook 5-7 minutes per side, until cooked through.

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