By: Andy Lightbody
One of the best ways to wake up in the morning is to the smell of fresh coffee, and something sizzling on the grill or in the frying pan. One of the best treats that are simple and easy to make is homemade sausage patties! And while ground pork is likely to be the top choice for most folks, you can make great sausage patties with everything from venison and elk to domestic beef. It just comes down to what you like and what you have in your freezer.
Commercial breakfast sausage is made for the “masses,” and is usually lacking in great taste. Pork sausage bought at the grocery store either has too much or too little fat, so you are going to end up with a “grease patty” or a dry piece of fried cardboard!
While starting with ground meats is the easiest, turning a lot of those tougher wild game cuts or stew meat into a flavorful grind is a great way to clear out the “freezer last-season-left-over’s,” and make it into a bunch of sausage patties that can be processed, cooked and then frozen for later use as “meat-on-the-side,” or some great eating breakfast sandwiches on everything from a croissant or English muffin to your favorite biscuits!
If you are using wild game or wild pork, make sure that your sausage grind has enough natural fat. Ideally you want a mix of around 70 percent meat and 30 percent fat. Pork fat or beef suet is available at virtually all grocery stores. Often times, wild game/pork is processed from your game-processor on the “lean side,” and you want the extra fat to retain moisture and add sizzle-flavor.
If you are using your freezer-leftovers (old big game roasts, steaks, jerky trim, and stew meat) and are going to grind your own, set your grinder up with either the medium or coarse blade. Here again, you can add the extra fat by simply adding suet or fat to make your own 70/30 blend.
Smokehouse “spice masters,” have come up with four different flavors that are sure to please just about anyone’s pallet. Venison, Wild Game, Classic, and Zesty Western flavors.
Classic: Lots of sage with a bold and hearty traditional flavor that is reminiscent of the great-tasting sausage patties we all know and love.
Wild Game: A great blend of the traditional spices and sage, but with a “hint” of sweetness. This is going to be a favorite for making your wild hog sausage!
Venison: Here is an ideal blend that compliments a lot more than just venison. It is tasty, without being over-powering and should work great on deer, elk, bear, moose, caribou, antelope or whatever you have tucked away in the freezer.
Zesty Western: This blend has a “little extra kick” to it with the ground peppers in it. It starts with a mild flavor, and then the pepper-spice kicks in to a little extra added zest.
Each Smokehouse Breakfast Sausage Mix comes pre-mixed and packaged with 4.5 ounces of spice blend. This is enough to make up to 12 pounds of sausage, but don’t be afraid to cut back on the meat to around 10 pounds of grind if you like an extra rich/hearty flavor! On the flip-side, if you’re not planning on making, cooking and using a large batch of sausage in a single setting, you can easily measure out approximately 2 teaspoons of spice for each pound of meat. Add an extra dash of spice for a fuller/bolder taste!
To the meat and spice mix, all you have to do is add 1-cup of cold water if you are making the 10-12 pound recipe or about 1/8th cup water for each pound of meat. As a tasteful variation, you can replace the water with beer, soda pop or even orange or mango juice for an exotic twist!
Once your meat, spice and water are blended well, you’ll get the best flavor throughout the sausage by letting it rest in your refrigerator for 12-hours or more. This gives everything a chance to better intermingle and spread out to the mix. ! If you want to play around with additional flavors to the mix, consider adding chopped green or black sliced olives, finely-chopped onion, shredded cheese, pine nuts/sunflower seeds or even some capers. Don’t be afraid to experiment… it is difficult to mess up this easy recipe.
Unlike making traditional “big and thick burgers,” keep your hands moist with water (eliminates stickiness) and make your patties to around ½-inch in thickness. This allows for a flat and even cooking.
Now you are ready to add the “secret flavor” for some of the best-tasting sausage you will likely ever have! If you have a Little Chief/Big Chief smoker you can add a real-smoky flavor level by placing the patties in the smoker, adding your favorite flavor of wood chips or pellets and let them absorb that rich hickory, cherry, or mesquite wood flavor. Remember, you are not trying to cook the sausage, just add a layer of smoke flavor. Keep the temperatures around 100-110 degrees for 30-45 minutes by simply propping the door open and cracked.
If you are a cold-smoke aficionado, now is the time to dig out your Smokehouse Smoke Chief, load it up with your favorite wood-flavor pellets and let them absorb tons of cold smoke for 30-60 minutes. We did a few patties with hickory pellets for 2-hours, and they were everyone’s favorites!
The patties are now ready for the frying pan, deep-fryer, griddle or grill.
Onto the grill or into the frying pan, you want an ideal “internal” meat temperature of 160 degrees F. When using pork or pork fat, just make sure that it is not cooked rare/medium rare! Cook your sausage on medium-heat until a nice crusty dark brown.
Once cooked, you can take all the leftover sausage patties and seal them in freezer/vacuum bags for later use. Take the frozen patties from your freezer and just “nuke” them in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds for your future breakfast/brunch plans.
As a flavorful side dish to your sausage patties, here is a quick, easy and delicious recipe for making sausage gravy that is great on everything from the patties to biscuits and hash browns.
Homemade sausage gravy:
1-2 cooked sausage patties, crumbled.
2 TBS Butter
2 TBS Flour
2 Cups Milk
Seasoned salt and black pepper to taste
¼ tsp powdered garlic
Melt butter slowly in medium sauce pan. Add flour to make rue and stir constantly. Slowly add milk while whisking or you can use a fork to keep from forming lumps. Sprinkle in crumbled sausage bits, and add your Seasoned salt and black pepper to taste. Mix in powdered garlic and you are ready to serve.