Homemade sausage has been in the breakfast rotation at the farm for as long as I can remember. Sausage patties, links, turkey, chicken, pork, venison, maple and no maple, we have a bit of experience with everything. In this author's humble opinion, a pork-based sausage stands a head taller than the rest. However, whatever you choose as the foundation of your next sausage recipe, the most important single consideration is fat content. Fat prevents your sausage from drying out and tasting overcooked when finished to the proper internal temperature (160F for pork, 165F for turkey or chicken). This is true across the board whether choosing pork, turkey, or chicken. Arm yourself with this knowledge and may your table never have to suffer from dried-out sausage henceforth.
How to make maple sausage?
Begin by placing your thawed pound of uncooked ground meat in a large mixing bowl. Following this, you'll want to mix your dry ingredients (the spices) in a separate bowl. In addition to my opening comments on fat content, the next most important consideration is not overhandling your ground meat.
Overhandling ground meat leads to a finished product that has an off texture that is typically tougher than expected. I often see recipe blogs for seasoned burgers or sausage adding each ingredient in a separate little pile on top of the soon-to-be-mixed bowl of sausage meat. This makes for a nice picture on social media or blog posts; however, to evenly disperse the seasoning it requires the home chef to over-handle their mixture.
My not-so-professional opinion is this: I recommend lightly breaking apart your sausage meat, applying half of your dry seasoning and Vermont maple syrup, flipping everything as best you can once, then sprinkling in the other half. Mixing lightly, by hand is best, but this can be accomplished with two mixing spoons as well if handling raw meat isn't your thing. You'll continue mixing the ingredients when you shape your patties, so have no fear.
How to make sausage patties.
The easiest way to make your sausage patties is with a burger press, and this is how we formed ours. This is not necessary, but it does help in producing a uniform patty, multiple times, with little effort. Instead of a press, forming by hand works fine. I recommend an uncooked size slightly bigger than the English muffin, bagel, or biscuit you plan on pairing your sausage with as they will shrink. Additionally, use your palm and press the center thinner than the outside edge so the final product doesn't turn into a "hockey puck". My final recommendation is a patty no thicker than 1/2" or so, this will ensure even cooking and a beautifully caramelized outer crust.
Cooking in Cast Iron
As you can see in the pictures, we chose to cook our maple sausage in cast iron. By sticking to a few fundamentals, you too can cook in cast iron with terrific results. First, heat your pan to just between medium and medium-low. Wait until the pan is heated fully, 4 to 8 minutes depending on the heat source.
Following this, add your favorite cooking oil, distribute it across the pan's surface, then add your sausage. Cook on each side for 3 to 4 minutes depending on thickness, and DO NOT move them around. The beauty of cast iron is that when the meat caramelizes it will release itself, at 3 to 4 minutes you'll be able to flip them easily.
I'd like to add another tip for those who like a maple finish with their maple sausage. When cooking, add a slight drizzle of syrup on the sausage before you flip it, this will help create a maple caramelized crust that comes through in the finished product. Remember, a recipe is nothing more than a guideline, add to and take away as you see fit. Drop a comment below with your results, I love reading feedback!
- 1 tablespoon of Very Dark Strong Taste/Baking real maple syrup
- 1 lb. package of ground pork (you can also sub in ground turkey or chicken)
- 1 teaspoon of cracked fennel
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt (or less if you plan on adding a salty topping)
- 1 teaspoon of rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon of sage
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 1 teaspoon of marjoram
- Lightly break apart your ground meat into a large mixing bowl.
- Mix dry seasonings in a small bowl separately.
- Sprinkle half of your seasoning mix and maple syrup over the top of your ground meat.
- Lightly flip in the bowl and add the other half of your seasoning mix and maple syrup.
- Lightly mix the sausage to prevent overhandling.
- Form your patties to your desired size, no thicker than 1/2".
- Fully heat your pan to just shy of medium heat, add your cooking oil, then uncooked sausage patties.
- In 3 to 4 minutes, flip and finish cooking (160F for pork, 165F for turkey and chicken), remember to not move your sausage patties around in the pan.
- Remove from heat and serve.