This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge (dreamed up by meat mavens Cathy and Kim) was to try our hands at grinding meat, and then turn it into sausage.

Like pretty much everything we “charcutepaloozers” have thus far created, I’ve always thought of sausage as something mysterious…something that must be too difficult to make at home. Turns out sausage that isn’t stuffed into a casing isn’t mysterious or difficult to make at all: it’s ridiculously easy, in fact. And you don’t even need a meat grinder.

Before this challenge, I had no idea you could use a food processor to grind meat. But you can! So I purchased a 2 pound piece of organic pork shoulder at my local grass-fed butcher shop, chopped it into cubes (make sure to chill them well… it’s really important the meat be cold when you grind it), then threw it in the food processor for 45 seconds as per Cathy’s instructions…voila fresh organic ground pork ready to be seasoned and formed into homemade breakfast sausage patties.

Some sausage recipes call for supplemental fat (aka back fat/fatback) to be added with the herbs/spices. My pork shoulder was pretty fatty so I opted not to add any…it didn’t need it. I think it’s going to depend on the cut of pork that is available to you, and the amount of fat that’s naturally present. Sausage is not meant to be lean, so do add fat if necessary. This recipe from Saveur says you should use a mixture of pork and fat so that the mixture is 70% lean to make sausage…I estimated that my pork was about that on it’s own.

For the sausage seasonings, I used a little muscovado sugar, dried sage, crushed red pepper, fresh parsley, and sea salt. That’s it. You could certainly add more herbs or spices but I wanted to keep this first batch simple. After testing a teeny patty to make sure I liked the seasonings…

…I upped the salt and red pepper a bit, then formed a bunch of patties. I am keeping these sandwiched between layers on parchment in a container in the freezer.

Sausage is delicious fried up and served with eggs, of course…seen here with gluten-free biscuits I made by adapting the scone recipe I created for the gluten-free ratio rally (I used 6 ounces of almond flour, 3 ounces of brown rice flour, 1 tablespoon baking power, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 9 ounces of heavy cream; I let the “dough” sit for 15 minutes before forming the biscuits into rounds and baking them at 425 degrees F for about 15 minutes; they’re delicious).

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Recipe

Ingredients:

*2 pounds organic boneless pork shoulder, cut into cubes, chilled, and ground in a food processor or meat grinder
*1/4-1/2 cup finely minced parsley
*2-3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
*2-3 teaspoons dry, rubbed sage
*1-2 teaspoons muscovado or dark brown sugar- optional
*1-2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, or to taste

Directions:

1. Mix ground pork with parsley, red pepper, sage, optional sugar, and salt in a large bowl until well combined.

2. Form a small patty and fry in a skillet until crispy on the outside and cooked through. Taste to see if you like the seasonings...adjust to your preference.

3. Form the rest of the patties and cook immediately (5-6 minutes on each side), or store the patties in the refrigerator for one week (or in the the freezer for longer-term storage).

For a more in-depth explanation of how to make different sausages, I highly suggest you read Cathy’s incredibly thorough post. And get yourself a copy of Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing – it’s our “bible” for these challenges.