I struggle with breakfast proteins.  We love eggs in our household, but after awhile the egg thing gets boring and a glass milk isn’t enough.  Honestly, we’d eat bacon for every meal, but it’s harder and harder to get behind the processed meat category, despite manufacturers’ promises  to eliminate nitrates and hormones.  I came across a recipe in my new cooking handbook, The Food Lab, that was surprisingly easy on ingredients and turned out big, big flavor.  I’ve modified the recipe to make it crunchtime easy and made it a bit lighter using chicken instead of pork+bacon.  And so, today folks, you’re gonna learn how the sausage is made.  And it’s not like this.

Is it crazy to make breakfast meats with so many ready-made options available?  Maybe, but I had to try because I have a tall order to protein-load my 15 year-old athlete.  Each meal has to be an opportunity to feed the beast.  My friend Val suggested that I just fry up chicken instead of making it into sausage. Val, that is way too logical.  Yet, I do work in breakfast chops and even steak when I can get away with it.  Fifteen year olds are also grumpy in the morning because their day is spent having to be a 15 year-old boy.  Our friend Jim said, “you couldn’t pay me anything to go back to being a 15 year-old boy,” calling it the hardest time in a guy’s life.  Never having been a 15 year-old boy, I will trust Jim and be somewhat sympathetic to my son when he barks things like “strawberry crepes again!” or “I told you, no milk with eggs!”  No, really, we’ll laugh about this someday when my arthritic hands, knobbed up from making breakfast sausages, can only claw him across the cheek.  Note, no one will ever be a chef/hand model.

a handful of ingredients

The reason we love bacon beyond adequate words is for its addictive salty-fat-sweet combination.  There are loads of scientific reasons from the smell of it cooking to the chemical reactions of complex flavor molecules that leads to its uniquely superior taste triumph,  Although we cannot recreate bacon without actually making real bacon, (just ask my tastebuds who tried bean bacon at this vegetable slaughterhouse yesterday) we can recreate similar palate-pleasing flavors well enough by using the blend of maple sweetness, red pepper flakes heat and kosher salt combined with the slightly, not overdone, lusciousness of dark meat poultry. And the cooking aroma is just as satisfying.

I promise you this sausage is worth the work and can even prompt hugs from your 15 year-old son.

maple sage breakfast sausage

The goal is to have frozen homemade sausages available on even the most desperate, overslept mornings.  Investing the time in advance for mixing, patty making, and cooking, provides the best ready-made plan.  You can also prepare just the seasoned meat for freezing or assemble the raw patties by flash-freezing on a sheet pan and then storing frozen patties in a ziplock bag until ready to thaw and fry.  Our instructions will be for easiest morning plan.

preptime:  30 minutes                                makes 30-40 3″ patties

resttime: 1 hour to overnight

cooktime: 5-6 minutes

  • 2 lbs ground chicken (at least 1 lb should be dark meat, I prefer all dark)
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram (or oregano)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl so that the seasonings and ingredients are evenly dispersed.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight to let the flavors combine.
  3. Line a large sheet pan with waxed paper.
  4. Heat a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat.  Spray with cooking spray when the pan is hot.
  5. While the pan is heating, prepare some patties, placing them on the waxed paper until ready to cook.  You’ll do this process in batches.
  6. When the pan and cooking spray hot, add the patties, careful not to overcrowd the pan.
  7. Cook 2-3 minutes, flip the patties and cook another 2 minutes.  Times will vary depending on the size of the patties and your pan.  You want slightly browned exterior and mostly cooked on the inside.
  8. Remove patties onto paper towels.
  9. When they are cooled, place into a ziplock bag or your favorite freezing vessel and store in the freezer.
  10. When ready to use, either thaw the patties in the refrigerator from the night before or you can do so for 30 seconds in the microwave.  Then crisp up on both sides in a hot, oil-sprayed pan and serve.

recipe modified from The Food Lab cookbook by your friends at crunchtimefood.com

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