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 après-ski.
The star of this sandwich is homemade turkey sausage flavored 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. Lift the meat mixture from below and fold it over on itself, slapping it back into the bowl. Test the texture: Does a small ball of sausage stick to your palm when you turn your hand over? It’s ready.
Turkey sausage can be, let’s face it, a little bland. I began this recipe experiment hoping to make turkey act more like pork. Sage and breakfast sausage go hand in hand, but it was the gochujang, a Korean fermented chili paste, that provided the necessary umami, and a deep, rich, almost smoky undercurrent that contributes to a thoroughly satisfying sausage. The small amount of chili paste in the recipe translates into no more than a mild tingle.
Test the mixture by cooking a small patty. Does it hold together in the pan? If not, incorporate a tablespoon more crème fraîche. Taste for each of the ingredients. Do you want more a little more gochujang? How about sage? Salt? Black pepper? Add a pinch of this or that, and then make and test another patty.
If the flavor seems right, divide the sausage meat into equal portions. If you have a scale, weigh each portion on top of a piece of parchment paper. 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.
I keep frozen turkey patties, separated by parchment paper, in an airtight container in my freezer. They go straight from freezer to skillet to plate in less than 10 minutes, and that means this better breakfast sandwich is so quick to put together, it’s an option for school days, too.