Even though the days are growing longer and the month of March begins in just a few days (does Daylight Saving Time start soon? That sunshine poking through the bedroom curtains at 6:30 AM would be much more welcome at the tail-end of the day rather than the beginning), it’s been blustery and cold here in New York City. We’ve been smothered in snow and whipped by the wind, and if I’m going to make it through these final days of winter I need to fortify myself in the morning. And that means eating a hearty breakfast of eggs and sausage.
Texans like their breakfast sausage to come in the form of patties, not links (though we seldom say “patty” as it’s just assumed when you have sausage in the morning that’s what it’ll be). And while nothing beats homemade breakfast sausage, in today’s fast-paced world most people buy their breakfast sausage at the store. And if you’re in Texas, you’re buying Owens.
That familiar tube of early-morning carnivorous joy is a staple in most Texans’ households. And since you can’t find it very easily outside the state, it soon becomes one of the things a homesick Texan misses the most.
Sure, Owens doesn’t have a lock on the breakfast-sausage market, but it’s the unique combination of spices and perfect pork-to-fat ratio that fries up probably the most delicious sausage this side of homemade. Trust me, I’ve tried the other brands and their flavor just does not compete.
My grandfather had told me that when he was a boy, his job on hog butchering day was to make the sausage. “Was it as good as Owens?” I asked. “It was better!” he said. I realized that if I wanted a proper breakfast sausage, I’d have to make it myself so I asked him how he did it. Surprisingly, making breakfast sausage doesn’t require much—just good fresh ingredients and a skillet.
While making your own sausage may sound like a daunting task, breakfast sausage is a cinch: you don’t have to work with casing and there’s no aging involved. Instead, it’s just a simple mixture of ground pork and spices, ready to be formed into patties and cooked immediately.
Breakfast sausage may just be one of the most versatile meats to have on hand. Of course, you can fry it up and serve it with eggs. Or you can place some in a biscuit for a tasty breakfast sandwich. You can crumble it into cream gravy, throw it into breakfast tacos or I’ve even been known to use it on top of my pizza.
So while this recipe isn’t Owens’ exact recipe, I dare say it’s just as good if not better because it’s homemade. And once you get the hang of making it, you may never eat store-bought breakfast sausage again.
2 pounds ground pork
1 tablespoon sage
2 teaspoons marjoram
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
With your hands or a spoon, mix together all the ingredients.
Heat up a skillet on medium heat and cook a small spoonful of the sausage a couple of minutes on each side. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Once you’re satisfied with the flavor balance, to cook form into patties and fry 6 minutes on each side. The uncooked sausage will keep in the refrigerator for a week. It can also be frozen uncooked for 3 months.
The spice measurements are not an exact science, so feel free to experiment.