Sausage spices up your breakfast fare, but when you’re cooking for a crowd, there’s no room or time to fry up just a few patties at a time. Save the stovetop for the eggs, pancakes and hash browns, and put the sausage in the oven. Whether you make your own or use a commercially prepared sausage product, you can safely cook your sausage patties in the oven.
Oven-Baked Sausage Patties
Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or to the temperature recommended by the manufacturer. Line the baking pans with parchment paper, or place lightly oiled, oven-safe racks onto the pan. Slice sausage rolls into 1/2-inch patties. If you made your own sausage, form it into a 3- to 4-inch roll and slice it into 1/2-inch rounds. Sausage rolls are a little easier to slice if you put them in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes first. Place the rounds or preformed patties 1 inch apart on the baking pan or racks.
Put the sausage in the oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; then turn the patties over and rotate the pan so the patties brown evenly. If the patties were frozen when you started, add another 4 to 5 minutes to the cooking time. Continue baking for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the internal temperature of the sausages reaches a minimum of 165 degrees.
Use caution when removing the pan from the oven; the fat from the sausages is extremely hot and may slosh out. If you don’t need to use the oven, you can turn it off, remove the sausage patties with tongs or a spatula; then put the pan back into the oven until it’s cooled and safe to handle.
Keep the sausages warm by turning the oven down to 200 degrees. Place the sausage patties in a covered dish with a little water, apple juice or chicken or beef broth. Put the dish back in the oven, covered, until you’re ready to serve. Alternately, put the cooked sausage patties in a chafing dish with a little liquid to keep them moist. Keep covered until the buffet is ready for your guests to enjoy breakfast.
Make Crispy Sausage in the Oven
If you like your sausage crispy, use the broiler. Turn on the oven broiler, and, if available, on the “low” setting. Arrange your sausage patties on a lightly oiled broiler pan. Place the oven rack so the sausage patties are 6 inches below the heating element. Broil for 3 minutes; then turn the patties over and broil for another 3 minutes or until the sausage patties are crispy and at least 165 degrees.
Grill the Sausage Patties
To grill sausage patties, fire up the grill and bring it to a high heat. Brush a little oil onto the cooking grate. Arrange the sausage patties on the cooking grate and grill for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the patties over and continue grilling for another 3 to 5 minutes until fully cooked. After removing the sausage patties from the grill, let them rest for at least 3 minutes before serving.
Microwave Fully Cooked Patties
You can easily heat a serving or two of precooked sausage patties in the microwave. Arrange the patties on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a paper towel. Leave the power setting on “high.” Microwave thawed patties for 35 to 40 seconds. Frozen patties should be microwaved 65 to 70 seconds, or until hot through.
Make Your Own Sausage
It’s relatively easy to make your own sausage since it’s basically a combination of ground meats and spices. You can use beef, pork, poultry, fish, wild game or any combination of ground meats. When using a lean meat like venison, mix it with equal parts ground pork, so the mixture is an 80-to-20 or 90-to-10 mix of meat and fat. Add spices to taste, including brown sugar, garlic, onion, pepper, red peppers, sage, salt, and, if it’s Italian sausage, add allspice, cloves, mace and nutmeg.
After thoroughly mixing the meats and spices according to your recipe, fry a small patty until completely cooked and taste-test it. If it’s just right, form it into patties or push into casings. Cook the sausage immediately, put it in the refrigerator, or freeze it within two to three days. Use frozen sausage within four months.
Clean Up After Handling Sausage
Always wash your hands, utensils and dishes thoroughly with dishwashing liquid and hot water after handling and cooking raw sausage and other meats. Sanitize all surfaces with a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach mixed into 1 gallon of water. Allow to air-dry.
Ruth de Jauregui is the author of The Soul of California - Cooking for the Holidays. She spent five summers working in the Napa Valley as a catering assistant, mostly for weddings and special events at the various wineries. While working in San Francisco for William (Bill) Yenne at American Graphic Systems, she assisted in the design and publication of several cookbooks. In addition to her interest in food and cooking, de Jauregui has several nonfiction garden books and her first novel in the works.