Minced pork appear very often in our daily meals because they thaw easily (I always freeze them in 100-gram portions) and are extremely versatile - I use them in soups, stir-frys, meatballs... Whenever I stock up from our butcher, instead of getting the pre-ground minced pork (which are usually quite fatty), I will request for a separate lean piece of meat to be ground into mince. That way, the mince won't contain as much fat. However, when X picked up some minced pork last month, he forgot to request for a lean cut, so this batch of minced pork was a tad too fatty for us and I didn't really want to use it in our daily meals.
So, I was reading The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt (my current favourite cookbook!) last week and was on the chapter on sausages, when I noted that Kenji recommended using at least 20% of fat by weight in a sausage! Though I'm not sure if my minced pork has that much fat, I knew pork sausages will be the best way to use up this batch of minced pork.
I won't go deep into the science of sausages because Kenji explained everything there is about the type of meat, the amount of fat and salt and how to grind the meat etc in the book. The key is simply to use good quality meat with at least 20% of fat, ample amount of salt (salt should weight 1 to 2% of the meat's weight) and to give the meat time to marinate and for the salt to break down the muscle proteins to create delicious, flavourful and juicy sausages.
I adapted the pork sausages recipe from Kenji's Maple-Sage Breakfast Sausages, swapping the sage with freshly minced flat-leaf parsley instead. I don't have sausage casings so the sausages are formed by hand into a log shape. Both pan-frying and baking the sausages work but I love the convenience of just leaving the sausages in the oven and forget about them (after setting the timer of course) even though they take a longer time to cook.
In terms of taste, the pork sausages taste just like the classics - a little spicy and a little garlicky. The maple taste wasn't very noticeable so I guess I will omit it the next time or swap it with honey. The lack of sausage casings made them taste less like sausages, and more like ćevapi, a type of skinless sausage common in southeastern Europe (Balkans). Nevertheless they still tasted extremely delicious!
We had the pork sausages with scrambled eggs and sautéed Portobello mushrooms for a weekend brunch and I had the remaining over the week as lunch with arugula and a simple Greek yogurt sauce (recipe also included at the end!). The combination with the arugula and yogurt sauce really reminds me of our holidays in Balkans and I think I prefer this way of enjoying the pork sausages!
And now I can't wait to stock up more minced meat to give different sausage flavours a try!
|1) Combine all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.||2) Mix well with a spoon or with your clean hands. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.|
|3) Using your hand, stir and squeeze the sausage mixture until the mixture is slightly sticky.||4) Shape the minced pork mixture into sausages and pan-fry them (for baking instructions, see the recipe).|
|5) Pan-fry for 5 minutes on each sides until browned.||6) Then pan-fry the sides for about 2 to 3 minutes.|
Homemade Freeform Pork Sausages
Cooking time will increase if sausages are baked instead of pan-fried.
The Night Before
- Combine all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Mix well with a spoon or with your clean hands. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.
- Take out the sausage mixture from the refrigerator and using your hand, stir and squeeze the sausage mixture until the mixture is slightly sticky. If the sausage mixture is too cold for your hand, set aside for 15 to 30 minutes to let the mixture come to room temperature. Alternatively, mix the sausage mixture with a stand mixer fixed with a paddle attachment on medium speed until the mixture is slightly sticky. Divide the sausage mixture into 8 portions (about 70 grams per sausage).
- Line a baking sheet / large plate with parchment paper/silpat.
- Take a portion of sausage mixture and form into a ball. Using your dominant hand to hold the meatball, slap it hard against the palm of the other hand several times to compact the meat and to get rid of air pockets.
- Roll the ball of sausage mixture between your hands to form a log shape about 1.5-inch (4-cm) thick. You can make it thinner if you like but don't make the sausages too thick otherwise it will be hard to cook the sausage evenly.
- Place the shaped sausage onto the lined baking sheet / plate and repeat until all sausages are formed.
- Freeze the sausages (without covering them) until they are frozen solid, about 1 hour. Transfer the sausages into a ziploc bag and use the sausages within 3 months.
- If the sausages are frozen, thaw the sausages completely (preferably overnight in the refrigerator) before cooking.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat. If your pan is not non-stick, you can add a bit of oil to prevent the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Add in the sausages in a single layer (without touching each other) and cook for 5 minutes until well-browned. If the bottom is burning, turn the heat down. Flip to the other side and cook for another 5 minutes until browned. Turn the sausages to the sides and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Serve hot.
- Thawed sausages: Preheat oven to 200C / 400F. Place the sausages on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until browned all over and the top a little crispy.
- Frozen sausages: No need to preheat the oven. Place the sausages on a lined baking sheet, stick them into the cold oven and turn the oven to 200C / 400F. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until browned all over and the top a little crispy.
Homemade Freeform Pork Sausages
- 8 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, ½ cup
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced (optional)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon / lime juice, preferably freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon freshly minced coriander / mint
- Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve with the sausages.