Sunday, April 18, 2010

Breakfast Sausage Throwdown and Pioneer Woman's Biscuits and Gravy

For Easter, I bought an entire leg of pork from the butcher. The leg of pork itself was about 20 pounds. Six pounds of the leg became a fresh ham for Easter. The remainder of the leg was ground, equaling about 12 pounds of lean ground pork, as well as two meaty ham hocks. I thought a Throwdown featuring breakfast sausage would be a fun way to use up some of the ground pork, so I opened up my Mark Bittman How To Cook Everything and got to work.

Disclaimer: The leg of pork is a very lean cut. Bittman calls for you to add 1/2 to 3/4 pound fresh pork fatback into 2 pounds of lean boneless pork. I skipped this step in both variations simply because I wanted to keep things on the lean side.

Using Mark Bittmann's, How To Cook Everything, I settled on two breakfast sausage variations. As a jumping off point, I chose Bittman's Basic Breakfast Sausage using the traditional flavoring of sage (pictured above, top photo). To spice things up a bit, I chose his Spicy Sausage with parsley, garlic, ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne (pictured below, third photo). I wanted to see which one we preferred in a taste test. I thought for sure I knew which one would win, but I was really surprised by the results.

Bittman's Basic Breakfast Sausage was a combination of one pound ground pork, 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. We served this sausage with scrambled eggs and biscuits. The basic breakfast sausage was superb. It had all the familiar flavors of traditional breakfast sausage, only it was much more fresh and really much better than buying it in the supermarket. There was nearly any fat left in the pan and we really didn't miss all the calories. This is definitely a wonderful way to enjoy breakfast sausage in a healthier way.

Bittman's Spicy Sausage(photo directly above) was also made with one pound ground pork, but was combined with 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. The blend of spices smelled terrific and you could easily see how flavor packed this sausage was going to be. Both my husband and myself love spicy and flavor-packed foods, so we were excited. I served this spicy sausage with Pioneer Woman's Biscuits and Gravy.

Pioneer Woman's Biscuit and Gravy is a quick and easy recipe, link found HERE. After cooking the sausage patties, Ree uses about 2-3 tablespoons of the sausage fat, whisks in 2 tablespoons of flour, and then adds in about 1 cup of milk. The homemade sausage that I used didn't yield any fat, so I opted for 2 tablespoons of butter, followed by 2 tablespoons flour, and 1 cup of milk. We loved this traditional Southern breakfast. It was quick, easy and delicious!

This is my submission to this roundup at Foodie Friends of the Pioneer Woman! If you would like to see what everyone else submitted, please click HERE to be directed to the FFPW site.


I was expecting the spicy version to win, but it was the old familiar taste of the basic breakfast sausage that won out in the end!

Which sausage do you think you would prefer?


  1. I really enjoy when you do these throwdowns. I think it is such a great idea.
    I don't know which of the two sausages I would have preferred. They both sound really good but, if you made me pick, I would have gone with the traditional.

  2. I can definitely see the appeal of the traditional sausage but that spiced up version (with CINNAMON) might just win my heart. Only one way to find out...

  3. Great throwdown! Although the spicy sausage sounds delicious, there is something about the traditional flavors that really says sausage to me so it gets my vote. ;-)

  4. Sounds fun, I always go for spicy ones. It looks yummy.

  5. I too really love when you do these throwdowns. What I want to know is... How in the world do you find the time for these when you also have two children and a house to run my dear woman? Grand cudos to you! I think I would choose the traditional sausage as well. When I make my own I add in some dried fennel seed and a pinch of red pepper flakes as per Rachel Ray's recipe.

  6. Loving the ham ideas! Can't wait to see what's next! ~LeslieMichele

  7. all of them Jasmine looks this kind of sausage yum

  8. I think I'd like the spicy one more, but there's only one way to know for sure! ;)

  9. I have really got to make my own breakfast sausage. I've got all of the tools...I just need to suck it up and grind everything together. Yours looks amazing!

    Biscuits with sausage gravy is a much anticipated weekend tradition in this household. Everyone loves it. I've never tried PW's. I'm off to check it out.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing this!

    Hope ya'll had a lovely weekend!

  10. Laughing...PW and I make sausage biscuits and gravy EXACTLY the same way. Too cool. Except...just like you, my sausage never yields enough fat, so I always add butter. Mmmm.

  11. You deserve a tiara, woman! Great mom, great cook! My husband would be pounding at your door, for this hearty breakfast! Yummy!

  12. Good to know your using up all that meat you got in yummy ways! Both sausages look divine! :-)

    I actually saw the Pioneer Woman when she was at the Mall of America back in November--what a neat lady!

  13. i love that you made your own sausage! i forget that you can even do that. great throwdown. and i would win some serious points with my husband if i made those biscuits and gravy for him, it's his favorite!

  14. I'm so impressed that you made your own sausage! I think I'd like the traditional too.

  15. Wow, you really know how to pick some great recipes to try! I have the Pioneer Woman book but I have yet to give anything a try. The biscuits and gravy look amazing though. Yum!

  16. Oh, man, homemade sausage is killer! How cool to get a whole pork leg! Now you need to get one of those sausage stuffing gizmos!

  17. That is just a little bit of pork heaven!!

  18. Yum homemade sausage. I'm surprised that you didn't pick the spicy one.

  19. Dunno - can I come for breakfast, try them both and find out? :-)

  20. Your husband must be the happiest man in North America. It all looks fabulous and I'll have to give the Bittman recipe a try. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  21. LOVE your throwdowns; both look awesome! You are an adventurous cook; I would have loved to see you ordering a 20 pound pork leg! :)

  22. I think I would like the traditional one too. But it's a tough choice. I was thinking you would pick the spicier one. It sounds just as delicious! I guess it all depends on what you're in the mood for.

  23. Great idea to make your own sausage.

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  25. I love the variations in sausages. It is such fun to sort of make your own. I make my own Turkey sausage these days because it is so hard to find and very $$$$. What a fun throwdown!

  26. What a great idea those throwdowns!!!

  27. I don't eat sausage very often, but your crispy sausage looks great! How fun that you made your own.

  28. Oh biscuit and gravy are perfect together! This recipe souunds so good. Yum!

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