It’s funny how food cravings go.
Take a bagel, for example.
I’ll get the idea of the perfect bagel in my head, which for me either means an everything bagel lightly toasted with vegetable cream cheese, or a plain bagel untoasted with cream cheese, lox, red onion, and tomato. Either way, served with a cup of nearly black coffee on the side.
I build the idea up so much in my head, it’s like I’m almost ready to go to NYC for the weekend just to experience bagel perfection. (Ok, that’s just a smokescreen…I’m always ready to head to NYC.)
But then I get the perfect bagel and it’s not nearly what I’ve built it up to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, amazing even; it’s just not the mind-blowing experience I had in mind. Which is what I try to remind myself of when one of those random cravings strike.
The exception to that rule is my recent craving for breakfast sausage, but that’s only because I knew I could make a healthy version that would knock the socks off of any sausage-lover out there. I added a mix of sweet and savory sautéed onion and apple, plus herbs and aromatics like thyme, sage, fennel seeds, and nutmeg. The sausage is sweetly savory, super flavorful, and moist, and perfect on a bed of Cauliflower Hash topped with a fried egg.
The best part is that this makes a big batch so you can stock your freezer with the perfect breakfast food for those mornings when you don’t have time to whip up a batch.
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for frying
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 medium crisp, sweet apples, washed, cored, and diced small (not peeled)
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 2 lbs (910 g) ground chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
- 1¾ teaspoons sea salt
- 1½ teaspoons minced fresh sage (or ¾ teaspoon dried, crushed sage leaves)
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, gently crushed in your palm
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (see Note below)
- Melt the coconut oil (if it’s not already melted) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and apple, and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the garlic, and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and cool completely.
- Combine the cooled apple/onion mixture, ground chicken breast, thyme, salt, sage, fennel seeds, black pepper, nutmeg, and vinegar in a large bowl. Mix just until the apples and onion are incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.
- Scoop the sausage mixture into 3-tablespoon-sized balls (I use an ice cream scoop for this), and then flatten the balls into 2½ to 3-inch circles. (Like making mini hamburgers.)
- To cook on the stovetop, heat a large skillet or griddle (I use my cast iron griddle, but a nonstick surface will also work) over medium to slightly medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and spread it around to coat the skillet or griddle. Add the sausages and cook until they’re golden on both sides and fully cooked inside, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, flipping once. You can work in batches if they don’t all fit at once. (Don’t press down on the sausages as they cook because this will release the juices that keep them moist.)
- To cook in the oven, preheat the oven to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and grease it with a little coconut oil. Line the sausages up on the prepared baking sheet, and bake until they’re fully cooked, about 5 to 6 minutes per side, flipping once. (Note that if they’re cooked in the oven, they won’t be golden on the outside unless you briefly run them under the broiler or brown them in a skillet.)
- Serve the sausage with eggs or vegetable hash, if desired.
To Freeze and Reheat: I like to store extra sausages wrapped in batches of 2 (which is a serving size) in the freezer. To reheat, unwrap the sausages and put the frozen sausages into a skillet with a splash of water; cover the skillet and cook until warm throughout, flipping once.