Making breakfast sausage is not as daunting as it sounds. Here we are not going to be stuffing it into casings, but either pressing it into patties or leaving it loose to crumble and brown.
Choosing Your Pork
But, let’s step back a bit and talk about different types of pork that are available. As I have learned about sustainability while building Dogwood Hills Farm, I have found that taking the stance of ”I really have no idea how this is done; would you, please, explain?” has been my best approach. So, when it came to start supplying pork for the farmstay, I sure did ask a lot!
From the Farmer
I started with the farmer that was going to raise the hogs for me. I had to know, first of all, how much meat I actually needed. My farmer friend (who walked me through many farming firsts) explained the weight he grows them to and what that translates to in pounds of finished meat. He also explained the time line: when they go to the processor, how long they are there, what my cost will be for the hogs and what my cost will be for the processor. This is important when calculating the cost of the meat and the amount of storage space required. This really goes for any meat you’re going to order in bulk or “on the half.” I also needed to decide how much ground versus cuts or roasts. Something interesting to note when ordering a whole hog is that you’re going to get the whole hog. You need to think about how you are going to use it all. Don’t hesitate to ask the processor for suggestions as well. Some people use primarily the ground so that they get it all done that way, except for maybe the pork belly for bacon.
From the Market
If purchasing from the farmer is not an option, finding ground pork at the grocer is an easy task.
So, now, we’re going back to what you need for this recipe!
Ultimately we need ground pork. If we are getting it from the store, it will be a little leaner than typical sausage grind which has 30-40% fat. We asked our butcher for 30% to give us a leaner finish. Decide if you want a coarse finished patty or something a little smoother. When we get through the recipe and you are looking for that smoother finish were going to put in in the mixer for a bit, which will help break down the protein in the meat.
Spicing Things Up
Herbs, spices and flavorful additions — here you are totally in control of what goes on your table. Make your sausage savory, peppery or like this, with a dash of sweetness — working around the preferences of your family is an added benefit to making your own. Traditionally there is sage, pepper and salt. Adding in red pepper or ginger or maple syrup can completely change the flavor profile. The key is making sure you choose seasonings that complement each other. For this recipe, we are going to go toward the savory/sweet profile, but you’re making this, so, you can adjust how you’d like.
Dogwood Hills Farm Pork Sausage Recipe
In a medium sized bowl, mix all the dry spices together. If you have whole spices, grind them together with the salt to release more flavor.
Add the water and syrup, and stir well.
Add your ground pork and mix well. If you have a mixer, beat with a paddle attachment on low to medium for 2-3 minutes. Otherwise, mix well with a spoon until the mixture is smooth.
At this point, you can either put everything into a quart size freezer bag and freeze for up to 2-3 months, or you can cover the bowl, refrigerate and let it sit over-night so that the flavors meld.
When you’re ready to cook the next day, form sausage mixture into patties and cook through (cooking time will depend on the size of the patties you make).
About the Author
Ruth Pepler and her daughter Grace run Dogwood Hills Guest Farm on 82 acres of Ozark hills with her husband, weekend warrior/reluctant farmer, Thomas. Their homestead was inspired through Grace’s 4-H projects — eventually leading to a dairy operation, and the additional land came with a guest house. Guests’ desire to participate in farm life inspired the Peplers to begin hosting farmstays where guests are welcomed to help feed cows and baby goats, milk cows, and tend to and feed chickens and ducks. Guests are invited to join the Peplers for hearty, farm-fresh meals and encouraged to adventure out on their own to explore the Ozarks, nearby Buffalo National River and local community. Dogwood Hills Guest Farm also hosts monthly, five-course gourmet dinners that are about as farm-to-table as you can get. Learn more in “Home Cooking With Kat & Friends” available now on YouTube.com/ArkansasPBS.