You-Made-It?! Pork Sausage
1 1/2 lb pork steaks or 1 pound ground pork
1/2 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
25 turns of the black pepper mill
2 tbs whole or rubbed dried sage
1/2 tbs sea salt or to taste
If using pork steaks: Remove bone, gristle, and membranes but leave the fat on the meat. Process in food processor until ground and place in glass bowl or pie plate. If using ground pork be sure it's completely defrosted then place in glass bowl or pie plate.
Carefully and evenly sprinkle the crushed red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper, dried sage, and sea salt over the ground pork. Thoroughly combine with your hand or a fork.
If using right away, form into patties of desired size or into meatball shapes. Place in cold, heavy skillet like a cast iron skillet and cook on low heat until fully done--if necessary, cut them in half to check for pinkness and cook until evenly done throughout.
Important: Be aware that no matter which pork meat choice you use, this recipe has far less fat than store-bought sausage and might not render any fat at all even if you brown the patties or meatballs very slowly. The patties or meatballs may burn before you know it.
If making ahead of time, reserve the sea salt, combine the meat, herbs and pepper very well, cover meat mixture and place in the refridgerator. Right before cooking, evenly sprinkle sea salt over the entire meat mixture, carefully and fully combine, then form and cook as above. Don't refrigerate non-frozen meat mixture more than 24 hours before cooking.
Be sure to cook the entire batch when you do cook it. Freeze any leftover cooked patties or meatballs for later. Don't freeze the uncooked meat mixture.
Makes 6 to 8 patties or about 10 meatballs.
Notes: Personally, I like the flavor of pork steaks so I use them whenever I can. Ground pork is very convenient though. I have one of those small hand-crank-style choppers and it works beautifully for chopping the pork steak into ground pieces. If you grind the meat yourself be CAREFUL not to over-process because the meat heats up quickly and the fat will soften and melt, causing the mixture to become a gooey mess that's unpleasant to handle.
You can buy peppercorns in bottles with grinder tops if you don't have a pepper mill. No pre-ground black pepper can compare to freshly-ground black pepper. I don't like multicolored peppercorn mixtures--just don't like the flavor--so I can't give an opinion of how it may work here.
This recipe is a good example of when to used dried herbs over fresh ones. I LOVE fresh sage but it burns way too easily here. Also, using dried sage and crushed red pepper flakes will sort of act like a 'dry rub' of sorts if you make the meat mixture overnight, permeating the meat with the marvelous flavors.
It's important to sprinkle the herbs, salt, and pepper evenly over the ground meat--don't dump them in a pile. Sprinkling the herbs, salt and pepper will make for a more consistently-flavored sausage and make combining the meat mixture much quicker and more pleasant.
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