Did it make you think about all the processed meats that are part of your weekly routine...and how they are causing havoc inside your body?
Did you want to stick your fingers in your ears and run away, pretending not to hear it?
Since there may be a small part of you that secretly hates us now after telling you that your beloved, convenient processed meats can cause cancer, we hope this week we can slightly redeem ourselves!
If you love sausage, especially breakfast sausage, we are here to tell you it is super-easy to make your own! There is no special equipment needed, and it's just as savory and satisfying (dare we say even better) as the processed version you buy from your local grocery store! This video shows you just how easy it is!
First of all, what is sausage?
At the store, sausage is available in fresh form, which needs to be cooked before you eat it, and is also available in pre-cooked versions which are often preserved through curing, drying or fermentation. Some sausage is sold in a bulk form, such as ground or patties, and then others are sold as links and stuffed into natural or synthetic casings.
As with most REAL food, the best way to know exactly what you are eating is to make your own, and sausage is a perfect example. Not only can you control the ingredients, but you can also adjust the flavor to your desired preferences.
Making homemade sausage really can be as simple as dumping ground meat and seasonings into a bowl and mixing it up!
Here are few things to keep in mind:
What kind of meat?
- Any variety! To make homemade sausage, you can use any type of ground meat such as pork, beef, lamb, chicken or turkey.
- Fat is the key! The fat helps keeps your sausage moist after you cook it. Aim for at least 15% fat. But, no more than 20%...this can make the texture too soft.
- Medium grind is ideal (which is how beef is normally ground). If choosing meat that is not already ground, most stores will grind it for you.
Making the Sausage:
- Hold it together. Adding some liquid helps bind the ingredients together. Water works fine, but you can also use broth, beer, wine, apple juice, applesauce...the possibilities are endless!
- Add veggies! You can replace a small amount of the meat with veggies such as onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, jalapeños, roasted peppers, or even fruits (such as apples, olives or raisins).
- Test it. You can test the flavor by taking a small amount and frying it up in a skillet. Then, you can adjust your spices and other ingredients however you wish.
Once it is made:
- Enhance the flavor! After combining your meat and seasonings, you can leave the uncooked mixture in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to meld.
- Choose your shape. Homemade sausage can be left in ground form, or formed into balls or patties, or shaped into thin links (no need to mess with stuffing the sausage into casings). The sausage can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days before you cook it.
- Freezes beautifully! Your sausage patties or links can be frozen if you are not going to use them immediately or within a few days, and then they can easily be cooked from their frozen state.
How to cook it:
- Homemade sausage is great pan-fried, baked or grilled. Cooking over medium heat (vs. high heat) works best.
- If you want a larger portion of sausage, or want larger links without casings, you can roll it and wrap it in cheesecloth. Then, you can poach it in simmering water (not boiling). Poaching will help hold the sausage together. Then, when done, you can remove the cheesecloth and slice the sausage. (But cheesecloth should not be used while pan frying, sautéing or grilling.)
You may be looking at this recipe thinking, this is going to taste like a seasoned turkey burger, but it REALLY does have a flavor-popping juicy sausage taste!
It's crazy good, and works extremely well to replace other processed meats...it's perfect with eggs in the morning instead of bacon, great flavor topping for pizza instead of ham or Canadian bacon, or ideal to add to lasagna or your favorite spaghetti sauce!
Keep in mind, you can use ground pork or other type of ground meat instead of turkey, but turkey is a great healthy and lean option!
Try these meals ideas for your homemade sausage:
- Breakfast Burritos
- Skillet Jambalaya
- Chorizo Sweet Potato Tostadas
- Sausage Apple and Onion Chicken Skillet
- Butternut Squash and Sausage Pasta
- Oktoberfest Inspired Potato Skins
- Caramelized Onion & Sausage Pizza
Once you master this simple homemade sausage recipe, then you can mix it up and get more creative!
- Cajun: salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, garlic, fennel seeds, paprika, onion powder, cayenne, allspice
- Mexican: chili powder, paprika, oregano, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, salt
- Italian: salt, fennel seed, crushed red pepper, black pepper, paprika, coriander, parsley, garlic
- Greek: garlic, orange zest, coriander, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper
There are many benefits to making your own sausage at home...in additional to being healthier and reducing your processed meat intake, you also get to enjoy better taste, higher quality and even lower cost!
Share with us...do you have a favorite homemade sausage recipe?