Maple Breakfast Sausage

I seldom eat sausage. No store-bought breakfast sausage or restaurant sausage ever tastes right to me, too fatty or off flavors. I’m always dreaming of breakfast sausage I had in a Wisconsin restaurant near LaCrosse one early morning on my way to Minnesota many years ago with my son, who was maybe 15 at the time. When our breakfast arrived and I began eating my sausage, I remember I said to him. “This is real country sausage, so good.” The Detroit kid was unimpressed. He liked Bob Evans or Jimmy Dean or whatever, and mostly he liked the Italian sausage we purchased at a good meat market.

This is part of the explanation for why I was taken with an article in the New York Times Magazine last week titled “The Pleasures of a Pork Patty” by Samin Nosrat. The use of the term pork patty also reminded me of a Fourth of July Pork Burger in Reinbeck, Iowa at the Methodist Church that was to die for, as we like to say. I stared at the picture, I dreamed of that Wisconsin sausage and the Iowa pork burgers.

Okay, enough. On to the recipe.

Maple Breakfast Sausage
(the ingredients I used – roughly half of the recipe printed in the magazine. More variations at nytimes.com/magazine)
this amount makes four patties

½ dried sage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small pinch nutmeg
1 small pinch ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ pound ground pork
½ tablespoon maple syrup and a little more
Extra virgin olive oil

Combine the spices in a bowl, add pork and syrup.

Use your hands to mix thoroughly for 1 full minute until the pork is tacky, sticky in the palm of your hands.

The recipe suggested a cast iron pan. I have a small one. It was too small. Just use a heavy pan of the size for your needs and heat the olive oil until it shimmers. I used a ¼ cup to make my patties, flat and one the small side. Choose a pan that will not crowd the elements of the breakfast you are cooking.

The author suggested you make one small patty first to check for seasoning. I ate my one patty. Then I added more seasoning (the extra in a small bowl from the measuring) and formed and froze the remaining patties. In other words, my patty was delicious but I thought a bit more seasoning would make it even better.

I followed the suggestion that I cook my sausage, egg and bread in one pan. The author talked of how the bread soaked up the pork juices and so good. Well my pork was quite lean and little fat or juices to soak in the bread.

I went back to the article and read the suggestion you talk to your butcher and ask how much fat they add to ground pork. She suggested 20 to 25 percent. I bought my ground pork at a good market, but I did not ask about the fat content. I didn’t want it too fatty but a smidge more would have been perfection for cooking. For eating I was most happy with the sausage patty I had for my breakfast.

Your sausages may need draining on a paper towel. When I put mine on a paper towel, no fat. Good for me but as I said nothing to flavor the bread.

I cooked the sausage patty, an egg and a half slice of bread in the skillet at the same time.

I loved this sausage. My tummy feels fine. It was a satisfying breakfast. Just as good as my memories of Wisconsin, so I guess with this recipe there is good Michigan sausage. (To clarify MI is home to all sorts of delicious flavored sausages or sausages made with multiple ingredients such as spinach and feta. Here I’m yearning for country pork sausage.)

That touch of maple syrup may well be the secret. Maybe it was the sausage and slightly runny egg eaten together with a small piece of the hot bread in one bite. Oh my! Give this a try!

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