Ok, so this stuff is delicious. I have had a tenuous relationship with sausage casings in the past, but I have since made peace with not making stuffed sausages, and just being satisfied with making sausage patties and using it as a loose sausage, not in casings. And so we come to my ginger sage breakfast sausage, which is based on Michael Ruhlman’s version, but has been modified to suit my tastes. It’s a little less salty (I don’t reduce the salt in recipes without serious consideration, but Rhuhlman has a very heavy hand with salt) and tweaked all of the ingredients until (at least to my palate) everything was more harmonious. Please, feel free to adjust to your specific tastes. These are great in breakfast sandwiches, or in paleo “sausage mcmuffins with egg.” This recipe does require the use of a meat grinder, but you can use one for all sorts of things. Otherwise, you could always spring for pre-ground pork, but that kind of takes away part of the allure of having used distinguishable parts of the animal in your sausage (pre-ground meat kind of creeps me out). And for your sanity (and the sake of consistency, I recommend the use of a scale.
Ingredients(makes 80 1oz sausage patties):
5lbs fatty pork – shoulder/boston butt is preferred – cut into pieces small enough to fit down your meat grinder’s tube
29 grams or 1 oz salt
4 grams (or 2 tsp) black pepper
22 grams grated or pressed garlic
10 grams finely minced fresh sage
3 grams red pepper flakes
5o grams grated fresh ginger
- Combine all ingredients except ginger and chill thoroughly. This can be left for up to a day in the refrigerator prior to grinding.
- Set up your meat grinder with the small die, pull the sausage out of the fridge, mix in your ginger, and get to grinding!
- Once all of your meat has been ground, measure out 1 cup of very cold water(you can use any type of liquid here – I like wine in many sausages, but this is a little over the top in a breakfast meat)
- Start mixing your sausage. You can use your stand mixer, but mine always manages to get meat all up in the connection area, so I stopped using it. I just use a stiff spoon or spatula. The goal here is to get it a little gluey. Pour in part of your water, mix it in, and continue adding water until it has been fully incorporated. Once the sausage beings looking sticky, you can do a test bite. Cook a little sausage in a pan and taste it for seasonings. If it needs more of anything, it can be added at this point and mixed thoroughly. Continue mixing and tasting until you’re satisfied.
- Once you are happy, you can get to the portioning part of this. I used my 1oz disher scoop on this batch. As an aside, I have tried so many different ways to portion this sausage out, from handmade patties (always lumpy and inconsistent) to rolling it into logs and slicing into “coins” (creepily squared off edges – the patties look offputting). This is definitely the least messy and simplest method in my opinion. I’m feeling a little proud of myself for developing this method.
- Scoop your portions out onto a silpat or waxed paper lined sheet pan, leaving space between each scoop. Once your pan has been filled, place another sheet of waxed paper. (I really recommend using only waxed paper instead of silpats, it separated much more easily than the silpats did!) Then place a second pan on top and push down to flatten. Line the top pan with waxed paper or silpat and then dish your next batch of patties onto that, top with another layer of waxed paper, then flatten with an additional pan. This should handle about half of your sausage. You can do as many layers of this as you need. I only had 3 sheet pans available for this ordeal, so I stuck with the 3 and refrigerated my additional sausage until the next day and did the whole process over. When you remove the frozen sausage from the freezer, peel off of the liner, place in a freezer baggy, and put back in the freezer.
- To cook: preheat a pan over medium-low heat (I like using 4/10) and cook just until the side starts browning a little, turn over, and cook until that side has browned as well. The sausage should be thin enough with the sheet-pan method to cook fully in this time, but if it’s not, allow to cook over gentle heat until no longer pink in the center.