I admit it, I am not the poster child for healthy eating. I try to cut down on added fats/sugars and in general calories where I can- but sue me- I like cheese, and I like red meat, and I like chocolate. It's tough to cut it all out. However there are some things that are just not in the cards for me. One of those things is sausage. It is delicious, it really is, and while I will occasionally allow myself the indulgence, under normal circumstances, it is off limits. Normally I can make do with chicken or turkey sausage, though while they can be quite tasty, they don't usually taste anything like real sausage to me. So earlier this week I decided to see if I could make a healthier version, with the real feel taste of sausage.
I started by taking out my mortar and pestle- I feel like anything I make with that thing has to be fun, and a 1/4 lb of 94% lean ground turkey meat. In the pestle I combined about a 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, about the same of ground sage, crushed red pepper flakes (to your liking), dried Italian herb blend (as much as it kills me to own it), a little sprinkle of salt and fresh ground black pepper, and a little shake of nutmeg. I crushed these together with the pestle in the bottom of the mortar until most of the ingredients were pretty fine, but with still a few whole fennel seeds. Then I added this mix to the turkey meat. My next step was a little concerning, I wanted one more fun ingredient- I wanted maple flavor. So I added about a tablespoon of good maple syrup to the mix. With my hands I mixed all of this together until the seasonings appeared well mixed. I formed it into a hamburger patty and put it on my piping hot grill pan to cook.
I'm always a little nervous when it comes to poultry so I cooked this one about 10 minutes a side, until I was absolutely positive that it was absolutely cooked through. During the last few minutes I added a nice slice of Mozzarella cheese on top. I served this baby on a dry, toasted English Muffin with just a leaf of local Boston Lettuce from Stillman's, as I wanted to taste as much of the "burger" without accompaniments as possible.
I must say- I think this was a complete success. The turkey meat tasted exactly like a sausage patty, without all of the extra grease. I loved the fennel see and the sage in it, I think I could have even increased the sage a little, and the hot pepper flakes gave it just a little heat. The maple syrup really tied it all together though, and I didn't get any annoying sweetness from it- just a little maple.
I was really pleased with how this turned out, and it really satisfied a craving for sausage without killing my diet. I definitely have a new go to when I'm craving the prince of unhealthy meats! And, even better, I get to use the most fun kitchen tool ever- the mortar and pestle!