We haven't used store-bought sausage, for years. Not only do I not want to support factory farms, I can't be sure what they mean by "pork." I just assume that any leftover piggy parts were shoved into a grinder. And after the whole "pink slime" beef situation, I stopped taking any chances with mystery meat.
According to one popular sausage brand's website, the ingredients in their pork sausage include corn syrup (high risk GMO), MSG, (excitotoxin that kills brain cells and is highly addictive), and flavorings (A scary concoction they don't have to tell us about.)
So after years of being sausage deprived, I decided to try a turkey breakfast sausage recipe. However, we all agreed the result was dry, and tasted like cardboard. And that batch of sausage soon found itself chopped up, and hidden inside some breakfast burritos. So I began to adjust the seasonings of the recipe, but immediately, the North Carolina girl in me knew exactly what this cardboard sausage needed. It needed taste.. and delicious smokyness.. It needed BACON GREASE.
Oh yes, I did.
"But doesn't that defeat the purpose of making it with lean turkey?" you may ask. "Won't the saturated fat and chemicals in bacon make me fat and dead?"
I use uncured, organic bacon, which has no added nitrates or nitrites. It still tastes exactly like normal bacon. Even with adding 2 teaspoons of bacon drippings to one pound of turkey, it only adds about 10 calories, yet endless flavor, to each 2 ounce sausage patty. Calorie-wise, this 90 calorie turkey version still comes in well below standard pork sausage, which would be about double!
Jimmy Dean brand pork: 180 calories in a 2 oz patty (and msg, corn syrup, mysterious "flavors" and assorted pig parts?)
If you're not concerned about calories, you can make this sausage with ground pork. For those who are unsure about pork, check out this post from Holistic Squid: Bacon is Joy, But is Pork Bad For You?
I would never suggest that you go hog wild, and start recklessly sopping up a pan of bacon grease with your whole grain rolls or anything like that. (See what I did there? har har) Fats are high in calories, so moderation is key. For those who may be new to the idea of having bacon grease on hand, just fry up a few pieces of bacon, and serve those alongside your sausage. You can keep bacon grease in a container on your countertop. My grandma (who's alive and well at 95 years of age-- even though she has eaten pork/bacon grease every single day of her life) always used a special container like this. (Affiliate link)
Turkey Breakfast Sausage
1 lb of ground turkey breast
1/4 cup rolled quick oats
2 teaspoons bacon drippings (organic, from pastured pigs)
1/2 teaspoon fennel, crushed
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon real maple syrup (like this)
Mix everything together and form into 8 patties, on a piece of waxed paper. Heat a pan on medium-high heat, and spray with olive oil, or fat of choice. Brown the sausage for a few minutes on both sides, until cooked thru. And don't squish the patties to make them cook faster. You'll lose moisture. I apply a light pressure to help get that delicious caramelization, if the patties buckle a little.
If you're not planning to cook all 8 pieces at once, just fold the wax paper, keeping each patty separated, and put them in a Ziploc freezer bag. Days later, I just move them from the freezer to the refrigerator, the night before I want to cook them.
I usually eat these with a side of leafy greens, while my family has them with eggs and toast. And you know what's delicious, drizzled lightly onto those greens?
Bacon drippings, (1/2 teaspoon on half a dinner plate filled with greens) and a little balsamic vinaigrette.. Don't judge me.
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