Frugality never tasted so good.

I’m always so pleased when I find ways to use up tail ends of foodstuffs – finding half a bag of dried blueberries to put in my granola, or using the rest of the yogurt that I’d bought for banana bread to make tandoori chicken, things like that. I hate it when stuff goes to waste. So I was a little disappointed when two of the recipes I wanted to make this week – hearty chicken soup and wienerschnitzel – each called for only a pound or so of meat. The smallest package of chicken breasts I could find was 3 pounds, and the same with the pork loin.

Fortunately though, I remembered that I still had half a jar of lard sitting in my fridge from over the holidays (I’d experimented to see if pie crusts made with lard actually tasted all that much better than all-butter crusts – answer, no they don’t). I realized that I could use the extra couple pounds of meat and finish off the lard with one project that I’d always wanted to try: sausage making.

Though I’d bought a sausage funnel and casings a while back (and threw out the casings when I realized that I couldn’t stand handling raw meat while pregnant), I decided to go the easy route and just make patties. And Alton Brown has a breakfast sausage recipe right here!

I did make a few changes. First of all, I ended up with about two and a half pounds of meat, instead of just two… and they weren’t the kinds of meat he called for. Skinless chicken breasts and pork loin instead of straight pork butt? These were going to be some lean sausages! And I didn’t have fresh herbs (so I reduced the measurement by half and used dried), and I couldn’t find fat back anywhere (I did check, because I would still have preferred that to using lard). I also wanted a maple syrup flavor, so I added an extra half tablespoon of brown sugar and two tablespoons of maple syrup.

The results: much more attractive when cooked and oh, so delicious. These sausages  are chock full of flavor. Even though they’re tougher than I’d like because of the kinds of meat used, they taste really excellent. Not, however, at all like maple syrup. The next time I make these – and I will be making them again – I’m going to at least double the maple syrup. They could use a little more sweetener anyway, to be true breakfast sausages in my book. And I’ll cut back on the salt by about 1/4 tsp too – I’m glad I had extra meat to begin with, or the salt would be overpowering (and I used kosher salt, not table salt, so it should have been even milder). I also forgot the extra cayenne that Brown calls for and they were plenty spicy anyway.

I scooped them with a muffin scoop (bigger than a golf ball) and made little flattened patties, four to a freezer bag (two per person is plenty). I got 17 patties out of just a few pounds of meat!

I feel very Little-House-On-The-Prairie.

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