Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.
John Godfrey Saxe, quoted in University Chronicle, University of Michigan, Vol. III, No. 23, March 1869.
While I agree with Mr. Saxe, a Vermont attorney turned satirist, about the creation of laws, I disagree with him about the making of sausage. I know, actually, I hope, things were different in 1869 than they are today. Just because sausages were historically made of the bits and ends, that does not mean they have to be condemned to scorn and mediocrity. A good cut of pork freshly ground, mixed with herbs and spices, then left alone in the fridge for a day to let the flavors meld, then cooked up, and viola! a whole new and exciting world awaits you. That is really all there is to fresh sausage. To play in the world of smoked or cured sausage is a whole different experience and one we will not be exploring today.
Earlier in the summer I decided it was time to make sausage and use the grinder attachment for the KitchenAide for its intended purpose. Having tested a number of recipes, from breakfast sausage to hot Italian and chorizo, I have to say, making fresh sausage is far easier than anticipated. I did omit stuffing the mixture into casings to keep things even easier. If you have made meatloaf or meatballs, you have essentially made sausage, just in a different form. All fresh sausage is, is ground meat, spices, maybe herbs, and maybe other flavorings, mixed together then cooked.
I made a few versions of the recipe below over the summer. Some with apple, some without. I tried using maple syrup; but, grade A maple syrup just doesn’t have the flavor to stand-up in the sausage. If you have ready access to grade B maple syrup, give it a try. I always found pancakes were a justification to being able to pour syrup on my plate to swish sausage or bacon through. With this recipe you don’t even need that pretense.
I found leaving the mixture in the fridge at least overnight helps the flavors come together. If you either do not have a meat grinder or do not want to go through that, try using ground pork from the market. I tried a few different cuts of pork to make the sausage. Some was very lean and I added butter, which just cooked out. While there could well be better cuts than a pork shoulder butt to make sausage, it is readily available to us and has a good fat content without making the final sausage greasy. If you do not like any spicy heat in your food, omit the crushed red pepper. If you want it extra hot, add some crushed dried ghost pepper. I opted against dried ghost pepper flakes as this is for breakfast and I don’t need that level of heat to start my day. Feel free to experiment.
Apple and Syrup Breakfast Sausage
- 1 pound pork shoulder
- 1 apple, peeled and cored
- 1.5 – 2 tablespoon Marionberry syrup (or your choice)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed or coursly ground (not into a powder)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- rounded 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
Cut the pork into about 2 inch cubes, or a size that fits through your grinder. Partially freeze, so firm but not solid, about 45 minutes. Once partially frozen, put through your grinder. I used the fine plate.
Cut peeled and cored apple into long slices that will fit through your grinder. Put through the grinder. Finely dice if using pre-ground pork or you want it to stand out more.
Mix everything else into the meat so it is well distributed.
Cover and put in the fridge at least overnight. Some of the juice and syrup will separate overnight, just mix back through.
Form into patties of your liking. Any of the sausage you are not going to use in a couple of days can be frozen either as patties or in bulk. If freezing patties, put wax paper on a cookie sheet and place the patties in a single layer. Freeze, then store in a freezer bag.
Cook over medium heat. The sausage will brown faster than normal because of the syrup so watch this and cook at a lower temperature if getting too dark too quickly.