Our weekend breakfast treats here at Rabbit Hill often include either bacon or sausage. I love the spicy aromas from a pan of sizzling meat, which is usually enough to rouse the latest of sleepers. Omelets, muffins, pancakes and waffles are all delicious accompaniments to our ritual carnivorous indulgence.
Charcuterie, the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, is quite trendy these days in the local food movement. Chefs and artisan farmers are preparing their own creative versions of sausages and smoked meats from heritage breeds of pigs, lamb and beef. For those that enjoy a hands-on experience, one can spend 2 – 3 days at nose-to-tail butchering workshops, learning the arts of preparing and preserving meats.
In sausage making, ground meat is combined with salt and a variety of spices and herbs, and placed in a tube. The tubes can vary, but the more common animal derived tubes are from either hog or cow intestines. I once purchased a “strand” of these tubes from W. A. Bean in Bangor, which was enough to make 15 pounds of links. For those serious sausage makers, a “hank” will stuff 100 pounds.
In the recipe for Breakfast Sausage, I was seeking another resourceful and tasty way to enjoy our surplus of rabbit meat. Similar to chicken and turkey meat, ground rabbit meat is quite lean and by itself, makes a pretty dry sausage. By combining with equal parts ground pork, my breakfast sausage had just enough fat to sizzle. The brown sugar adds a hint of sweetness, while the anise flavor from the fennel seeds rounds out the heat and spice.
We enjoyed our breakfast sausage made into patties, but this recipe could easily be scaled up to and stuffed into links. I like the no-fuss of patties; they freeze and defrost easily. Plus, patties can be used to make a mean breakfast sandwich.
- 1 pound ground meat (pork rabbit, chicken, turkey or combination)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (sage thyme, chives, rosemary)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Maine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind the red pepper flakes and fennel seeds. Add the remaining sugar, salt and spices and grind until well mixed. Add to the ground meat. Using your hands, work the spice mixture into the meat until it is well blended. Scoop out ¼ cupfuls of the mixture and shape into patties about ¼ inch thick. Stack between sheets of waxed paper and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook. Makes eight 2-ounce patties.