Tag Archives: Shoulder

Birthday Breakfasts – Breakfast Sausage

One of the things I came to love whilst living in America was Breakfast Sausage.  Sadly, in Australia, they have no concept of what Breakfast Sausage is (but almost strangely, Sausages or Sausage Links in America mostly leave a lot to be desired). In fact, even the ubiquitous Sausage McMuffin in Australia is a tasteless beef patty sharing culinary space with tasteless cheese and overcooked eggs (all on a beautifully microwaved English muffin).

Behold, the power of Pork. Don't stare too long, it's hypnotic.

So it’s no surprise that when we decide to do a special breakfast or brunch, Breakfast Sausage features highly on the menu.  What does one do when one does not have access to breakfast sausage at the local Mega-Mart?  Well, one makes ones own.

The ultimate twist to the tale is that home made Breakfast Sausage is soooo much better than anything you can buy in a store.  Jimmy Dean has nothing on home made sausage.  So, the moral of the tale is:  regardless of where you are, and what access you have to store bought Breakfast Sausage, make your own.  It’s really simple, and positively amazing.

This week Garan, our eldest boy, turns 15.  As with all Birthday’s in our household, the meal of your choice accompanies your birthday.  In this case, young master wants a brunch of Sausage and French Toast.  That’s a good lad.  I never need much of an excuse to break out the pork products, but his “demand” just serves as a convenient excuse to dust off my Sausage recipe.

Ground Pork

  • 1kg Ground/Minced Pork, or
    • 800g Shoulder Pork
    • 200g Pork Fat

Taking the easy route, pre-ground pork

Ideally, you would use the pork shoulder and fat.  Chilled, you would cube it and chop it in the same way as I do for my “Take Back the Burger” post.  To save time, pre-ground pork is fine, and mostly what I use, if I’m being honest.  Whilst the shoulder mix is a superior result, particularly the texture, using bought mince is better than buying pre-made Breakfast Sausage by miles.


Meet the players...

  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or maple syrup)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (optional)


Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, and let sit for 1 to 4 hours in the fridge (or refrigerate for up to 5 days, depending on the freshness of the original pork).  You will want to cook these from the fridge.  This will help keep them together.

Form the mix into patties, of your preferred size and thickness.  The English Muffin is my preferred bread type for these, so i tend to make them about that size, and about 1/2 the thickness of a muffin.  Then cook them on a medium heat, in a non-stick pan with a little cooking spray.

Perfect Patties...mmmmm

The sugar content of the mix will cause it to brown quite quickly, so you want to adjust the heat so that the outside browns as the inside is cooked.  Another option is to brown them, and then finish them in the oven.  Use an instant read thermometer to ensure the pork is cooked (go for about 75C or 170F).

Variation 1 – Heston Blumenthal

If you have time on your hands, and you have a nice meat grinder, you may have chosen the pork shoulder method.  It occurs to me that Chef Blumenthal’s labour intensive hamburger method would make a great breakfast sausage.  So, if you’re running a breakfast joint that wants to charge $30 for a breakfast sandwich, or you want to take the time to make something truly great, here’s the link.  Just use the ingredients listed above, and use his method.  Let me know how it turns out.

Variation 2 – The Crumble

Let the mix come to room temperature, and then drop the desired portion into t medium non-stock pan with some cooking spray.

Using the sharp end of a spatula, chop up the mix as it is cooking, until you get the desired result.  Serve as you wish, but for me this is heaven with scrambled eggs and cheese, wrapped in a tortilla…a little hot sauce and I’m a happy camper.

Variation 3 – Sausage Brownies!

OK, so it’s sounds weird when you put it like that.  This is actually my preferred method.

Press the mix into the bottom of a baking dish, to the desired thickness.  Bake in a moderate oven until cooked.

Sausage Brownies...sort of

If I am doing this, I will usually cover the pan with foil.  I want to avoid the Maillard reaction, as I want the cooked sausage to be soft from the outside in.  Frying or baking uncovered will brown the outside, and create a crust.  Normally a good thing, but not for sausage…not for me.

Once cooked, the handy Pizza Cutter makes the best tool for slicing.  Cut to your desired size.

If you want sausage for your pizza, I find this the best method.  You can dice up the sausage once cooked, and it hasn’t gone crusty so a second cooking wont dry it out.  Chop it fine and top your pizza with it.

It’s also the best method for a breakfast sandwich on square bread, obviously.

Regardless of how you choose to cook it, you really owe it to yourself to make this recipe for breakfast.  If you’ve never had Breakfast Sausage before, you will be converted and it will become one of your favourite things to make and eat.  If you have had Breakfast Sausage before, make it anyway.  It’s too easy to make to buy store bought crap that’s full of chemical stabilizers and artificial colours/flavours.

I usually make a big bunch, and then cook and freeze the squares or patties.   Then it’s a quick reheat while I am frying or poaching an egg, and toasting a muffin.  Faster than a detour through a drive-thru, and way better.

Enjoy the meal.


Char Sui – Chinese Barbecue Pork

One of my favourite things to do, as a cook, is to make a delicious meal out of ordinary ingredients.  It’s easy to make a delicious meal when the budget is not a great concern, but making a memorable meal with pantry staples and cheap piece of meat is where it’s really at…at least for me.

Given Australia’s proximity to Asia, our pantries and spice cupboards are usually stocked with staples you’d find in China, India, or Vietnam (as well as other Asian countries), so it is not unusual for an Australian meal to be heavily influenced by Asian flavours, even if the techniques are decidedly Western.  To compare to a US larder, Asian is our Mexican (if that makes sense).

I was walking through our small locally owned grocery store the other day, and I came across a couple of heavily reduced boneless pork shoulders.  It’s a bit of an addiction of mine to snag anything like that I come across (which is why my wife hates sending me to buy milk and bread), and so I loaded all they had left (which was only 2, thank goodness) into my shopping basket and began to think about a meal plan.  Almost immediately, Char Sui came to mind.

Every culture has a dish involving meat cooked over a fire and lathered with a sauce.

Chinese BBQ Pork is a traditional Cantonese preparation, and is easily recognizable by it’s red ring around around the outside, similar to a BBQ smoke ring.  Unfortunately, most Char Sui you find in the Western World is dry and lacking in the bold punch and richness of the real stuff, and misses the sticky marinade and fatty unctuousness of the original.

Cheap and very simple to make, this is one of those meals that will impress, and cost just a few dollars per person to deliver it to the plate, especially if you can find the pork shoulder on sale for $4/kg.

The Recipe:

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (fresh is best)
  • 2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 6 tablespoons ketchup
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoon Chinese Rice Wine
  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 8 tablespoons honey
  • 2kg boneless skinless pork (belly, neck, shoulder, or leg)

You’ll also need:

  • A container to marinate the pork.
  • Skewers (optional).  Steel is best, but bamboo is fine.  Soak them first
  • A basting brush (I use a heat-proof silicone one so I don’t singe the hairs)
  • A red hot BBQ or Hibachi.  Cooking with charcoal is best, but gas is better than frying these on a stove.
  • Something to serve on the side.  A nice noodle dish, or salad and rice is great.  Even a vegetable stir-fry is brilliant, with a bit of steamed rice.

Whisk all of the ingredients together, with the exception of the pork.  If you want the bright red colour, you can add red food dye to this mix.  Traditionally, fermented red soy-bean paste is used, but I do not have this at hand so I omitted it.  I chose not to use the colouring at all, mostly because it really does nothing for me.

Trim the pork of excess fat, and slice it into long strips about 4cm x 4cm square.  Think in terms of sliding a long skewer into them before barbecuing them, and you’ll get the idea.

Marinade the pork in the sauce mix for at least 2 hours, and up to over-night.  Make sure you get good coverage on the pork, and turn them at least 3 times whilst soaking.

The making of magic. Marinade meets meats. mmmmmm

When ready to cook, get the fire going and get it nice and hot!  Shake off the excess marinade and skewer the pork.  You can skip the skewering and just flip the meat using tongs, which is what I have chosen to do.  Pour about 2/3 of the left over marinade into a small saucepan and put a medium heat to it.  You want to reduce it a little, but mostly you want to heat it to sterilize it after having the raw pork in it.  Be mindful of the high sugar content in this sauce, which means it will easily burn if left on the stove without watching it carefully.  You’re going to use sauce this as a dipping sauce, or to pour it over the steamed rice.

Take everything else to the BBQ, including the left over 1/3 marinade and basting brush.  Put the pork on the heat, and turn and baste often.  Again, be really careful with the heat.  It will burn very quickly if you are not careful.  When done, and the outside is a nice rich caramelized colour, take it from the BBQ and place on a serving tray.  Baste each side one last time, this time with the sauce from the sauce pan, and cover with foil for about 15 minutes.

Get closer to the screen and smell the delicious aroma...no, closer...

After 15 minutes, remove the skewer and slice diagonally.  Serve however you wish to serve it.  Tonight I have chosen to serve it with a Grilled Peach and Roasted Tomato salad.  It’s a bit of a cultural mish mash, but the peaches work really well with the pork, and the bright salad dressing cuts through the sweetness and richness of the Char Sui perfectly.

Mesclun, Rocket (Arugula), Spinach, Grilled Peaches, Roasted Tomatoes Onions and Garlic, Prosciutto, Feta and a nice dressing

The beauty of Char Sui is the uses for it.  Once you have the meat itself, you cam make a number of dumpling dishes, or slice it up to add to a fried rice, or a nice noodle soup.  All of this is a great bonus for such a budget cut of meat, if you can stop yourself raiding the fridge at midnight to eat just one last piece before bed.  Good luck with that.