Everyone wants breakfast food. Fast food places offer all-day breakfast, as do sit-down diners. Whole chains are devoted to American’s desire for eggs, biscuits, and pancakes at any time of day, and let’s not forget Second Breakfast.
Today, we thought we’d help you feed that hunger for all things breakfast, with a twist on the classic sausage/egg/cheese sandwich of both drive-up and dine-in fame. The twist? We’re grilling it! We’ll make some quick homemade sausage, grill the patties to the perfect temperature using our Thermapen® Mk4, and not care what time of day it is when we eat it.
Killer breakfast sandwiches
To me, the perfect breakfast sandwich is a sausage sandwich. I know there are some people that prefer bacon over sausage, so why don’t we follow the lead of Vindulge and use both bacon and sausage? Yes, let’s. Of course, we’ll be grilling the sausage patties, which will give that great flame-kissed char flavor and hint of smoke. (See below to read about the doneness temps.) We can griddle the bacon right on our grill.
And the rendered bacon fat on our griddle, well that’s perfect for frying our eggs until the whites are just set and the yolks are thick, but still very runny—nature’s perfect sauce.
Then, there’s the bread for the sandwich. Again following Vindulge, we are opting for English muffins, toasted on the skillet, with the last remains of the bacon fat. The solid, stolid structure that won’t give up when faced with the rigors this bread will surely face. You can use any bread you want, of course. If you happened to some homemade biscuits on hand, for instance, they would be great if toasted until browned and crisp on their cut side. A brioche bun will make no one sad.
Of course, cheese. Don’t forget it. Nice cheddar, please. Or, yes, even American.
Homemade breakfast sausage
You can absolutely use a readily available tube of sausage or some pre-made sausage patties for your breakfast sandwiches, but I think we both know that’s not how you really want to roll. For your perfect sandwich, you need the perfect sausage, and that’s a matter of personal taste, not a matter of market research and manufacturing. Some people want some cayenne in their breakfast sausage, most people want a nice sagey flavor. Maple? Sure! Allspice, nutmeg, plenty of black pepper…the choices and variations are endless. We chose to follow a recipe from Taste of Home, which had a spice profile that we liked.
To make your own sausage, you can go two routes: grind it yourself, or just season some ground pork. We’ve covered the ins and outs of grinding sausage from scratch, and it’s a lot of fun. But sometimes, you don’t want to break out the grinder and do all the attending clean-up. In those cases, buying ground pork and mixing in the seasoning is a great way to get a superior product with minimal effort. Just be sure to mix it thoroughly so that you can get the myosin development that will hold the sausage together and give it that springy, sausage-y bite. Mixing and kneading it until the meat appears somewhat fibrous and sticky will do the trick.
This recipe uses buttermilk for the liquid. The slight tang of it is nice in the rich, fatty meat. It also has maple syrup, adding sweetness and rooting the flavor squarely in breakfast territory.
If you like a spicier, saltier, or more herbaceous sausage, feel free to tinker with the proportions, but remember to season your sausage depending on how you build your sandwich. We made patties that were rather large, and the milder spicing of this sausage recipe made for a sandwich that was enjoyable throughout, not just for the first few bites. If you make smaller patties, more seasoning won’t wear your palate out quite so quickly.
Grilling sausage patties
Sausage is a ground meat, and that means one thing: cooking to 160°F (71°C) for food safety.
Get a nice hot—but not scorching—fire going in your grill. Shape the sausage meat into patties that are no more than a half-inch thick, and lay them on. Turn the patties every couple minutes until a Thermapen inserted reads no lower than 160°F (71°C).
Grilled breakfast sandwich recipePrint
For the sausage:
- 3/4 C buttermilk
- 2 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
- 1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 3/4 tsp dried marjoram
- 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 1/2 lb ground pork
For the sandwiches:
- 8 English muffins
- 8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 eggs
- 8 strips thick-cut bacon, each cut in half to make 16 smaller strips
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. You want to grill the patties, but not scorch them.
Make the sausage
- Combine the pork seasonings, buttermilk, and syrup in a large bowl. Mix it thoroughly by hand or with a mixer until the mixture self adheres and becomes tacky and somewhat fibrous. Make sure the pork stays cold—below 45°F (7°C)—to create a better fat emulsion.
- Form your patties. Make sure they are no thicker than 1/2-inch. They will shrink in radius while cooking and will become thicker.
Cook and assemble the sandwiches
- With your griddle or skillet on the grill (see note below if it won’t fit on the grill while the sausage cooks), cook the bacon. Cook it to your preference—I like mine just crispy, still with a little chew. Remove the bacon to a plate and pour off some of the excess bacon grease.
- Put the patties on the grill over direct heat. Let them cook for a couple of minutes and then flip them. Keep flipping them regularly to help them cook evenly and to avoid burning the outsides.
- Check the sausage patties’ internal temperature with your Thermapen as you cook. Once you get up to about 150°F (66°C), flip the patties one last time and add your cheese.
- Fry the eggs in the remaining bacon grease until the whites are set and the yolks are runny. Remove them to a plate.
- Toast the cut face of the buns on the griddle.
- When the patties reach 160°F (71°C) and the cheese is melty, remove them from heat.
- Assemble your sandwiches and dig in! (Cutting it to reveal a delectable cross-section is optional)
If your grill is big enough to accommodate a skillet or griddle while still leaving room for grilling, you can cook everything at once. If not, I suggest cooking the bacon on the griddle first, which only takes a couple minutes. Then, cook the sausage on the grill.
When the sausage is done, remove it from the grill and cover it on a plate. Then put the griddle back on and fry the eggs in the last bit of bacon fat. When the eggs are done, toast the buns on the same griddle before assembling everything.
I love a good sandwich at a diner or even a drive-through, but this one puts them all to shame. The ability to customize everything from egg-doneness to sausage-spiciness, makes your own homemade breakfast sandwich better than anything you might get from a chain. And with an accurate thermometer like the Thermapen Mk4, you know your sausage patties are going to come off the grill hot, safe, and still juicy. Everyone wants breakfast, and they’ll want this one even more.
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