For ages I have had it in my mind to make homemade breakfast sausage. I knew that it couldn’t be that complicated. Yet, I never quite got around to doing it. How is it that sometimes the simplest things of all seem the most daunting? Well, I cannot say that I will never buy sausage at the grocery store again. However, I implore you to give this a shot. The base ingredient is fatty pork, and beyond that, you can do whatever you please. I even managed to score some wild boar at Bolsa Mercado to mix into my domestic pork for a really sweet twist. And I do mean sweet. Wild boar meat has a certain sweetness to it that has somehow become absent in domestic pork. But, this recipe works equally well using all pork shoulder.
You can mix any spices that you like into sausage. The traditional seasonings are sage, salt, pepper, and a bit of brown sugar. The sugar promotes nice browning as well as a hint of sweetness. But I also played around with cayenne and crushed red pepper, chopped dried cherries and rosemary, marjoram and thyme, and several other variations. The first time you make it, consider splitting the pork into 4 portions once it has been thoroughly processed and ground in your food processor. Then you can experiment with mixing different seasonings into each batch until you find the combination that works for you. Mix in the seasonings, beginning with a light hand. Keep a skillet handy and toss in a tiny blob of your seasoned sausage, cook it, and sample it. Add a little more seasoning if needed. Or adjust or add something else. This freezes like a charm so you can just take your seasoned meat and roll it up in a tube shape using plastic wrap, and then wrap it in foil and freeze it inside of another (well labelled) resealable plastic bag. You will have fresh homemade patty sausage for breakfast, or wonderful sausage to crumble and add to dressing or a dinner omelet.
This is simply fun to do. And it is one of those cooking projects that makes one feel a little less dependent on the “food giants.” You can make a better product at home than you find in the aisles of your grocery store. Sausage isn’t magic. It might be a mystery…but only if you are not the person putting in all of the ingredients. You absolutely control the quality when you make it at home. You know exactly what is going into your food.
Recipe for Wild Boar Sausage: (yield 2+ pounds)
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon fine black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound wild boar, cut into chunks
1 pound domestic boneless pork shoulder, cut into chunks
6 ounces pork fat (ask your butcher to add good scrap fat to your shoulder order)
1. With a mortar and pestle, grind the spices together and mix them thoroughly. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a large food processor, combine the wild boar, pork shoulder and pork fat. Process the meat until it is thoroughly combined and uniformly ground. Err on the side of more processing. There should not be large chunks of meat or fat. With the processor running, add the spice mixture through the feed tube and allow it to become completely mixed into the meat.
3. Remove the sausage meat from the processor and form the meat into patties.
4. In a skillet, cook the sausage patties on both sides until it is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink inside.
I created and photographed this sausage recipe for Edible Dallas and Fort Worth. It is in their Spring 2012 Issue which just recently hit the streets. That is why there is only a “finished” photo instead of my usual process photos. Since the process is, “put it in the food processor and hit go,” I thought you would let me get away with it this time. I am honored not only that the recipe was included, but also that they allowed me to test and photograph several of the other recipes for the Brunch feature. I’m proud to say that the photo of the brie covered in edible flower was taken by me, as well. I made this floral brie from a recipe included in the issue that was developed by Trixie Bond. It is a gorgeous presentation that is very easy to create. If you live in the DFW area, look around at some of my favorite haunts for a copy. They will be at North Haven Gardens, Bolsa Mercado, Celebration Market, Whole Foods, and many other spots in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. You can also visit the Edible Dallas & Fort Worth website to see many of the featured articles and recipes. Also, the wild boar that I found at Bolsa Mercado was from Broken Arrow Ranch, a business that also offers venison, antelope, quail, and elk. (Their gift packs might be an interesting idea for Father’s Day, and by the way…I’m not being sexist… I just don’t want a box of meat for Mother’s Day, so I’m being very specific to avoid any confusion in my own household.)