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Breakfast sausage (or country sausage) is a type of fresh pork sausage usually served at breakfast in the United States (and, under different names and/or formulations, in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and other English-speaking countries). It is a common breakfast item in traditional American "farmer" or "country" breakfasts, as it originated as a way for farmers to make use of as much of their livestock (usually pigs) as possible. Often, scraps and trimmings that would ordinarily have been fed to a dog or discarded were instead ground, seasoned, refrigerated and later consumed by the farmer as an inexpensive, high-protein morning meal.
It is perhaps most popular for home consumption in rural regions, especially in the southern states, where it is in the form of fresh or smoked patties or links (the latter with natural casings, synthetic casings, or no casing at all). Most diners, fast-food restaurants, and family restaurants across the country will also offer one or more versions of it during breakfast hours, whether on a sandwich, in a breakfast platter, or both; some fine-dining establishments will also have a sausage option on their breakfast or brunch menu. The cased link variety is most similar to English-style sausages and has been made in the United States since colonial days. It is essentially highly seasoned ground meat, so it does not keep and should be stored and handled appropriately. Newer variations made from pork and beef mixtures as well as poultry can now be found. There are also vegetarian varieties that use textured vegetable protein in place of meat. In America, the predominant spices used for seasoning are pepper and sage, although there are varieties also seasoned with cayenne pepper, or even maple syrup. Some breakfast sausage is flavored with cured bacon or ham.
Most commonly served as patties or slices from a large roll, breakfast sausage also comes in links of various lengths and diameters. It is normally fried in a pan. Some people like to pour ketchup or other condiments like maple syrup onto their breakfast sausages. Cooked breakfast sausage is also commonly mixed into egg casseroles before baking, and is a central component of sausage gravy.