Breakfast sausage (or country sausage) is a type of fresh pork sausage usually served at breakfast in the United States. 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. Scraps and trimmings were ground, seasoned and later consumed by the farmer as an inexpensive, high-protein morning meal.
It is perhaps most popular for home consumption in rural areas, particularly in the southern states, where it is in the form of fresh or smoked patties or links (the latter might have a natural or synthetic casing, or no form of any casing). Most diners, fast-food restaurants, and family restaurants across the country will also carry 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 produced in the United States since colonial days. It is essentially a 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 also be found. There are also vegetarian varieties that use textured vegetable protein in place of meat. In the United States, the predominant flavorings used for seasoning are black pepper or white pepper and sage, although there are varieties also seasoned with cayenne pepper, or even maple syrup. Some breakfast sausage is flavored with cured bacon.
Breakfast sausage is normally fried in a pan, grilled, or microwaved. Some people like to put maple syrup onto their breakfast sausages. Cooked breakfast sausage is also mixed into egg casseroles before baking. Crumbled and added to white gravy, it is a central component of sausage gravy.
Some common US brands include: P.G. Molinari & Sons, Bob Evans, Jimmy Dean, Swaggerty's Farm, Owen's Sausage, Purnell's Old Folks Country Sausage, Tennessee Pride, Johnsonville, Farmland, and Jones.
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