THE WASHINGTON POST – Winter weekends and brunch go together, and, in my mind, if a light snowfall can be conjured it’s even better.
A brisk, chilly walk or romp in the snow ending with a hearty meal is ideal. My contribution to this daydream is a breakfast sandwich that’s portable enough to carry to the sledding hill or to enjoy apres-ski.
The star of this sandwich is homemade turkey sausage flavoured with the expected (sage) and the unexpected (gochujang).
I tuck a crispy sausage patty, a generous spoonful of scrambled eggs and a sliver of cheese between toasted and buttered English muffin halves for a sandwich everyone will devour, even while wearing mittens.
This homemade sausage recipe begins with ground turkey, so no meat grinder is needed, and because it’s formed into patties, not links, there are no casings either. It’s as easy as making burgers or meatloaf, with one difference: Rather than handling the mixture tenderly and mixing as little as possible as you might with a burger, you need to vigorously combine sausage meat for a more sturdy texture that holds together without crumbling when cooked.
I prefer to use a stand mixer to make this sausage, but it’s easy to mix by hand, too. The goal is to transform the texture from a visible grind to a more cohesive mixture – without making it pasty. There’s a fine line between just right and too mixed, so work in pulses with the mixer, using the paddle to combine and remove excess air, until the ingredients hold together and gently slap the sides of the bowl.
When sausage meat is mixed by hand (please wear gloves; the chili paste can be irritating), the same action contributes to the correct texture without overmixing.
The patties should be made at least four hours before cooking. They are best stored, covered, on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the refrigerator.
When the weekend arrives, I’ll brown the sausages and scramble the eggs while toasting English muffins or splitting fluffy biscuits.
Then just stack sausage, egg and cheese, add a dash of hot sauce and tuck this sandwich in a parchment packet.
TURKEY BREAKFAST SAUSAGE
Eight servings; makes 16 patties
Korean chili paste, or gochujang, can be found in the international section of well-stocked grocery stores.
MAKE AHEAD: Make the sausage patties four or more hours before serving; the formed patties should rest to allow the flavours to develop. The sausage can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to three months. Cook thoroughly before serving.
Two pounds ground turkey, a mixture of light and dark meat
Four ounces creme fraiche (or full-fat yogurt, not Greek), plus one tablespoon, if needed
A quarter cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
One and a half teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
One and a half teaspoons kosher salt, or more as needed
One teaspoon gochujang paste (or half teaspoon smoked paprika)
Half teaspoon dry sage (sometimes labelled as “rubbed sage”)
Half teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the turkey, creme fraiche, parsley, thyme, salt, gochujang, sage and pepper. Mix at medium-low speed for two to three minutes. When the sausage starts to slap along the sides of the bowl and is slightly sticky, stop. Be careful not to overmix.
Alternately, mix by hand, wearing gloves to avoid burns from the chili paste. Use a bigger bowl than you think you need so there’s room to gather the mixture and slap it against the side of the bowl. Combine the turkey, creme fraiche, parsley, thyme, salt, gochujang, sage and pepper in four bold strokes. Once the ingredients are combined, lift, fold and smack the mixture against the side of the bowl about eight times, until the mixture is sticky and cohesive.
To test the texture, place a walnut-size piece of the mixture in the palm of your hand and turn your hand upside down. If the sausage does not stick, add one tablespoon of creme fraiche to the mixture and combine thoroughly. Then, test a small portion for sticking again.
To test the seasoning, form a walnut-size portion of the mixture into a flattened disk about one-and-a-half-inch wide. Add a dash of vegetable oil to a skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Cook the patty on each side, turning once, until well-browned, about four or five minutes total. Taste and adjust the sausage mixture for seasoning. Test again as needed.
With slightly damp fingertips, form the mixture into 16 patties about three inches across.
Use a scale to be precise (each patty should weigh two and a quarter ounces before cooking). Place the patties on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, then cover and refrigerate or freeze for at least four hours before cooking.
For freezer storage, cut individual parchment squares for each patty, and freeze until solid, about one hour, then transfer the patties with the paper to freezer containers or resealable bags.
To cook the sausages, place a wide skillet over medium-high heat and add a thin layer of vegetable oil. Peel the sausage from the parchment paper and, without crowding, place in the hot pan. Cook until well-browned, no more than three or four minutes per side (even if cooking the sausage straight from the freezer). Serve warm.