Showing off with Sausage
Be careful when you stop by my house for a casual glass of wine. It is never just a single glass. Every time you turn your back you will find your glass refilled, and if you happen to stumble into the kitchen you will be shocked (and possibly appalled) by the number of dead soldiers lined up on the counter. This is partially just how I host, true, but the more insidious truth is that I also really, really like having weekend guests unless you’re within cabbing distance, well, you’re mine for the night. There is a stash of extra toothbrushes tucked inside the linen closet and everything. You can come over whenever you want, but be forewarned that I don’t want you to leave.
I am an adult who never grew out of slumber parties.
For me, the best part about catering to weekend guests is that it is a great excuse for everyone to indulge in my two favorite things: way too much liquor the night before, and brunch the morning after. Breakfast is far and above the best meal of the day, and yet for me it most often consists of a yogurt cup and a plastic tub full of frozen fruit eaten hastily in front of my computer. That is, if I had the sense to grab anything at all before hurrying to work. On the weekends there is time to relax and take the time to fix something a little bit fancy, but when it is just Mike and I? He grabs a peanut butter sandwich and I eat cold leftovers from last night’s dinner. We really need to work on that. Anyway, my point is that when we have time to fix a fry-up AND people to share it with us, I really can’t resist.
Most people don’t fuss too much with breakfast, which is why it is also a fabulous opportunity to show off just a little bit. You know that your guests would be happy if you poured them a glass of orange juice and didn’t burn the toast, but you guys, you have a captive audience! What a great opportunity to strut your culinary stuff and prove that last night’s fabulous 4 course dinner (no judgement if 2 of those courses were potato chips) was not an aberration, and you are just as adroit at feeding people at 8 am?
For our most recent weekend warriors, I did a quick inventory and realized that we did not have enough homemade bacon to feed four hungry souls. However, breakfast sausage is a great second choice and making the hand-formed patties from scratch is an easy way to show off (“Oh those? Those are just the sausage patties that I made fresh this morning for you. Yawn. No biggie.”) without having to fuss with all the grinding and casing that normally comes with sausage making. I generally prefer to make a traditionally flavored and well seasoned pork patty for my breakfast sausage, but for these particular clean livin’ folks that I was feeding, I knew that a leaner and lighter patty would be a better bet. In this version, the pork is cut 1:1 with lean ground turkey, and the sausages patties are bulked up with grated apple to add a bit of sweetness and juiciness along with some fibre.
One quick apology before we get going: late nights and early mornings doth not a good photograph make. I will spare you the process shots I took, which look like they were done inside a bat cave, but making these sausage patties is so easy that you certainly don’t need a visual narrative to do a good job.
Lean Apple Breakfast Sausage
- 1 lb (454 g) lean ground pork
- 1 lb (454 g) lean ground turkey
- 1 large egg
- 2 small apples *
- 1/4 large Spanish onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1.5 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp ground sage
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- salt and freshly ground pepper, generously to taste
- 2 tbsp oil, to fry patties
* A tart-sweet apple like Granny Smith is ideal, however your favorite apple will surely be fine. Don’t bother fussing with whether to use a baking, saucing or ‘eating’ apple, because after being grated and mixed with the meat, they will all do just fine.
(The picture below is awful, true, but at least serves to show you that a) I DID try to photograph the process for you, and b) from the lighting you can tell that this was clearly something that I really did do in the morning for my guests, which means that you can too.)
Mound the ground pork and turkey into a large mixing bowl. Crack the egg on top and dollop on the Dijon mustard.
Peel the onions and garlic. Finely mince the garlic cloves or use a garlic press (my lazy preference) before adding the garlic to the meat mixture. Grate the onion using the large holes on a box grater and add it, along with all accumulated juices, to the mix. Core the apples and grate them as well, peel and all. Push the grated apple into the mix along with any accumulated juices.
Sprinkle the dried spices on top of the meat mixture and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Using your hands, fold and turn the meat and other ingredients into one another until everything is well combined. Don’t manhandle the meat too much, or over-process it by squeezing and smushing, because that will make the sausage patties tough and dry. Also, try to leave a bit of texture in the meat if you can, because ground turkey can get a bit mealy and you want the pork to save you from that fate.
Heat a scant teaspoon of oil in your frying pan set over medium high heat. Before it starts smoking, add a small, flat patty of the sausage mixture and fry it up until it is cooked through. This is your ‘test patty’, and a perfect opportunity to check the seasoning and make sure that the sausage doesn’t need any more salt or pepper. Look, most ground meat offerings (and especially anything with ground poultry) are just crying out for seasoning. “Please sir, may I have some more…salt?” they ask you plaintively as you roll them into balls or pat them into other shapes. If your test patty tastes a bit ho-hum, it needs salt. That’s all. Don’t hold back; that’s why we do a test patty in the first place. After all, better to know and have a chance to correct your seasoning now than to pat out all those patties and then have your guests take a nibble or two and leave the rest.
When your seasoning is spot-on, start forming patties. Spoon out a small amount of meat (about the size of a golf ball) and gently pat it into a round, flat patty about 1/3″ thick. If they look a bit wide and flat, that’s a good thing. The patties will shrink and fatten up as they cook.
Add just enough oil to your pan to coat the bottom and heat it again over medium high heat. Fry the patties in batches for 2-3 minutes per side until they are well browned and just cooked through in the center. Don’t overcook the meat or the patties will dry out and no amount of sweet apple will save them, but as long as they are gray throughout and deliciously juicy, they are done. Add more oil as needed until all the patties are fried, and if you’re not getting a good browning on the outside then increase the heat just slightly.
Keep the cooked patties warm in a 200ºF oven until breakfast is ready to be served.
Leaner than regular breakfast sausages but with just as much flavor, these little pork and turkey patties are a fabulous improvement to your breakfast side dish repertoire. I mean, bacon will always have a serious and special place in my heart, but it doesn’t hurt to shake things up once in a while.
The flavor of the apple is not overt, but adds a pleasing sweetness to the patties along with that fabulous added moisture. That said, if you want to know what to serve these beside and you don’t feel like frying up a dozen eggs, might I suggest some hearty cinnamon oat griddle cakes with a dollop of homemade apple chutney on the side?
If I didn’t mention it before, the uncooked patties also freeze very well for those times when a glass of wine turns into 5 bottles and you find yourself stumbling to make up the spare room bed for your derelict buddies. Pull a bag of these out to defrost in the fridge overnight, and in the morning you’ll be laughing. Or grunting in the general direction of the coffee maker. Either or.