You may cook ground Italian sausage to accompany eggs for breakfast, or you may add it to a number of main dishes for spicy flavor. It's most commonly made of pork, and seasoned with salt, pepper and fennel. Instead of the pork variety, try the healthier kind made of turkey.
To cook the sausage, brown it in a pan while breaking it into small pieces. Cook it for 8 to 10 minutes, over a medium heat.
Cooking Ground Italian Sausage
In an interview with LIVESTRONG.com, Ariane Resnick, CNC explained how to cook ground Italian sausage. It only takes a short time to prepare on the stove top.
"First, heat a pan over medium heat; and once hot, put in the sausage. Break it apart with a spatula, with the goal of getting it into as many tiny pieces as possible. Once it's well broken up, stir occasionally as it browns. Reduce heat to medium if it's browning too quickly," she explains.
Ground sausage is finished cooking when it's firm to the touch and is not releasing any further liquid, Resnick adds. The browning process typically takes about 8 to 10 minutes.
"I don't recommend cooking this type of meat in the microwave because the texture would be rubbery, and it wouldn't be possible to break it apart," she notes. However, you could easily cook whole encased sausages in the microwave.
Ground Sausage Recipe Ideas
Ground sausage is not only a breakfast food. It's also featured in many main dishes, some of which call for it to be mixed with hamburger.
"When making dishes with this combination, you just want to make sure to break up the meat well. Then stir frequently to incorporate them together, so that there aren't obvious pieces of each," Resnick advises. Sausage meat spaghetti or lasagna recipes often include both meats.
Other recipes call for ground pork to be mixed with ground beef, and occasionally, a recipe calls for frying chicken and beef together. All of these combinations are acceptable, she says. To illustrate, some meatloaf recipes call for either a mixture of ground beef and pork, or one of ground beef and sausage. In addition, chicken and beef are sometimes featured together in stir-fries.
Ground sausage recipes are often hearty and filling. For instance, sausage can be added to pasta, which is flavored with either a red sauce or a cheese sauce. The meat adds rich flavor to a bean soup or potato chowder. Sausage is also a frequent ingredient in cornbread stuffing.
Read more: How to Cook Sausages in the Oven
Sausage Safety Recommendations
Aside from pork, sausage can be made from beef, turkey or chicken. To prevent foodborne illnesses, cook pork and beef sausage to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and cook turkey and chicken sausage to 165 degrees F, the USDA advises.
Clemson University reports that uncooked fresh sausage, such as ground sausage, will stay good in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days, and in the freezer for 1 to 2 months. Cooked fresh sausage keeps in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, and in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
Unless your ground sausage comes from poultry, don't eat it too frequently. A February 2017 study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine reviewed studies that dealt with the health effects of red meat consumption. It concluded that unprocessed red meat increases the likelihood of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. The risks are higher for processed red meat, which includes processed sausages.
For many recipes, turkey or chicken sausage may be used, instead of pork sausage, without noticing a difference in the flavor of the dish. Due to the adverse health effects of red meat, it's better to use sausage made of poultry.