Country Breakfast Sausage

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Sage, pepper, thyme and marjoram blend together for a perfect breakfast sausage with just the right amount of kick from a touch of crushed red pepper. Try the homemade version and you’ll never buy sausage again. Not only does it taste better, it’s better for you, with none of the preservatives and chemicals that often lurk in the store-bought stuff. It’s also garlic-free, which means it’s easy on the digestive system. Cook and freeze the sausages, then microwave them as needed for a quick breakfast. Or cook and crumble the sausage for pizza toppings or sausage gravy.

Unless you know a butcher who can grind it for you, it’s sometimes hard to find bulk ground pork in the grocery store, so I was happy to see that my Costco carries it now. Since I don’t always want to make 7 or 8 pounds of sausage, I usually freeze some of the ground pork to use later. Whether you buy enough for one batch or more, be sure to keep the meat as cold as possible. I like to mix the water and spices the night before, so that the salt dissolves and the water is icy cold. Using a little water keeps the sausage juicy when you cook it and makes it easier to distribute the spices uniformly.

Country Breakfast Sausage

Makes about 16 patties, adapted from “Home Sausage Making”

3 pounds (1350 grams) ground pork (15 to 20% fat is ideal)
1/2 cup (120 ml) cold water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) sage
3/4 teaspoon (3.75 ml) pepper
3/4 teaspoon (3.75 ml) brown sugar or 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dextrose
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) dried marjoram
1/8 teaspoon (.62 ml) ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon (.62 ml) crushed red pepper

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients except the pork, stirring until the salt dissolves. Put the pork into a large bowl and pour the seasoning mix over it. Use your hands and mix well, until the spices are evenly incorporated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the sausage overnight, to allow the flavors to meld. Freeze the uncooked sausage for use later, or form it into patties and cook them in the oven or a skillet. If you’re using a skillet, cook them for about 6 minutes on each side, or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160º F (71º C).

To cook in the oven, heat it to 450º F (232º C). Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Use your hands to form 16 patties and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160º F (71º C). Serve hot or cool and freeze the sausages in a single layer, then transfer them to a plastic bag. Reheat the frozen patties as needed.