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I'm sure Jimmy Dean et al are nice guys but those are sorry excuses for sausage, IMO.

I've been grinding my own pork for sausage for a couple of years now but bought a pound of "hot" Jimmy Dean sausage the other day because it was on sale. (I'm not picking on JD; I'm betting most of that stuff in a tube is pretty much the same.) I won't do that again. First there's the texture. I made a couple of patties and the meat is ground so finely that they're like pre-formed, smashed burgers. Then this morning I crumbled some up and fixed in a scramble. Because I already knew that (see my quotation marks above) that hot wasn't hot, I minced up some jalapenos and browned with the meat. The eggs were good, the jalapenos were good. The sausage had a meat flavor but not a sausage flavor. I probably could have substituted beef and not been able to tell the difference.

If you have a KA stand mixer, the meat grinding attachment is about $50 and is so worth the money. If you don't want to grind your own meat, at least pick out a piece of pork shoulder, have the butcher grind it coarsely and bring it home and season it to your liking. In addition, you don't have to have all of the following:

"PORK, WATER, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF THE FOLLOWING: CORN SYRUP, SALT, SPICES, SUGAR, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE. "

I still remember the first time we fixed home ground sausage. Bob looked at me and said "If this is sausage, what's that stuff we've been eating all our lives that is called sausage." I guess I was a slow learner :) There aren't a whole lot of things Chow-related that I consider myself an expert on but this is something I know for sure. Try this and I guarantee you won't be sorry.

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  1. The Cafe on the Beach on Anna Maria Island in Bradenton FL has done all you can eat pancake and sausage breakfasts on weekends, for many, many years. It has been an institution. They recently lost their lease. They told me they have sold 6 million Jimmy Dean sausage patties and never had a thank you note from Jimmy.

    2 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        Jimmy's dead so don't hold your breath!

        1. re: mrbigshotno.1

          OMG, that's hysterical! Thanks for posting. That may be good sausage to a Texan but I'm from Georgia and I think it sucks.

        2. Their sausage was actually pretty good...about 30 years ago before they sold out to a conglomerate.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Coogles

            Sara Lee. That's probably an excellent point.

            1. re: c oliver

              I remember reading an article in Texas Monthly years ago about how pissed off the locals in Plainview, Tx were when he sold the company and the recipie was changed. Plainview was where the plant was. I didn't find that article but I found this.

              http://www.mysanantonio.com/entertain...

            1. re: EWSflash

              Never met a sausage I didn't like....even the MCD breakfast sausage is good.

            2. I'd love to see your recipe, if you are willing to share it.
              You likely have many, but just something spicy to get me inspired.
              I have a hand grinder, I'll call it exercise.

              12 Replies
              1. re: Bobfrmia

                It's a Batali recipe:

                http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ma...

                He's changed it though. The recipe I use also includes 2T fennel seed which, for me, is critical. I love it. I'm having it tonight in a pasta sauce with orichette (?sp).

                1. re: c oliver

                  i just read the recipe and the comments - do you really use 4 TABLESPOONS of salt? i suspect it's a typo and should be 4 teaspoons.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Just pulled out the cookbook to doublecheck. A quarter cup of salt. But we're talking about 6# of meat. I've made this at least a dozen times and it's not too salty. Truly.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      actually, the online recipe only calls for 4# of ground pork shoulder, but still 4 TBSP of salt...plus 2# of pancetta, which is a salt bomb on its own. i'm no expert but most of the recipes i've seen only call for around 1 or 1.5 tsp of salt per # of meat. this just seems like overkill to me.

                      ETA, no disrespect to you, c. i'm just trying to wrap my brain around this one :)

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        My now-passed-on Italian friend shared with me (taught me) 3 generations of sausage making experience. His rule of thumb was 3 level tablespoons per kilogram of meat - just under 1.5 TBL per pound.
                        However, he did this for curing purposes as he air dried all his sausage. If you are using the sausages fresh or plan to freeze, I think the salt amount can be changed for personal taste. Thats the beauty of grinding your own, you control things like salt, fat, seasonings, etc.
                        I will give a word of warning that when curing meats, salt or nitrite/nitrate use should be considered seriously. In other words, a minimum is required regardless of personal tastes.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          And no disrespect taken :) I don't have access to pancetta so have always used bacon. Could that be the difference? I don't think the recipe would suffer from reducing the salt. As a matter of fact, I believe that enough that I'm just going to reduce it the next time. Thanks for the nudge, ghg.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            ha! i wasn't trying to get you to change it, but if you do, and you're still satisfied with the results, i'll be happy to hear it :)

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              With the fennel seed and the red pepper flakes, which are two of my favorite seasoning, why mess with much salt. I LIKE change unlike some CHs :)

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Fennel and pepper flakes, along with the oft ignored granulated garlic.

                                You'll think you're sniffing sausage off a glass mirror through the tube of a tightly rolled hundred dollar bill,

                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                  I'll be buyin' some granulated garlic right away :)

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Not "powder", but "granulated". Easiest found in the large containers, The brand "Tones" works for me, but there may be others.

                                    Some hounds haughtily eschew granulated garlic. I say that's sad, because they don't know all the applications that they're missing..

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      c, if you don't have a store nearby that carries Tone's, TJ's sells it, as does Penzey's.