How to Make Delicious Poultry Sausage

Whatever your favored fowl, use these preparation and cooking tips to create flavorful, juicy links for a multitude of meals.

Photo by Meredith Leigh

You’ve braised, grilled, fried, spatchcocked, and stuffed. Why not try your hand at poultry sausage? In the modern kitchen, whole birds rule the day, giving families multiple meals from one purchase. Sausage from chicken, duck, or other fowl is easy to make, lean yet juicy, and fun to flavor in creative ways. Here are some tips and tricks for composing a delicious poultry sausage that you can adapt to accommodate any species of fowl and any flavor combination you can dream of.

Know Your Meat

Darker meat makes great sausage, so you can approach your recipe in a few ways. One is to buy several whole birds, take off the breasts for later use, and compose your sausage with the rest of the carcass. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll just put the whole bird into the recipe, favoring a combination of light and dark meat in your sausages. I buy only pastured poultry, and prefer breeds that live longer and move more before harvest, leading to inherently darker and more flavorful meat.

Use your favorite kind of fowl and seasonings to create personalized poultry sausages.
Photo by Adobe Stock/Ozerkina

Take all the meat off of the bone. Don’t worry about the skin; you’ll need that too. The best way to get bones out of a bird is to cut along the length of the wing, thigh, or drumstick, and then “pop” the bone out of the joint. They remove easily from there. To remove the breast meat, cut from the wishbone straight down the keel bone or breastbone, and, keeping your knife close to the carcass, lift the breasts off either side. Don’t forget the oysters on the back of the bird — two on either side of the upper back near the joint between the shoulder and the main carcass, and two on either side of the lower spine, about halfway up the back. Once you’ve removed all the meat from the bones, cut the meat into 2-to-3-inch strips, and lay it in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place it into the freezer to chill while you prepare seasonings. Be sure to place all the bones and any other bits from the carcass, such as cartilage, into a stockpot, and cover it with cold water. Set it on a burner, and let it simmer for several hours. When it’s done, you’ll have a rich stock to use when cooking grains or beans, or when making soup. You’ll also be able to cool the bones and pick any remaining meat off of them for another meal, such as tacos, soup, or chicken salad.

Adding the Fat

Sausage needs fat, for both moisture and for flavor. If you choose to add fat, go for duck fat or pork fat at 30 percent. If you do include pork fat, be sure to use back fat, which has a firm texture and a high melting point, so it’ll hold up well through processing and contribute to the perfect texture in your finished sausage. When making chicken sausages, you can just use the chicken skins, as I’ve done in the recipe included below. The result is amazing, lean, and moist. You can weigh the skin and the meat separately, if you’re concerned you might need to supplement the skin with additional pork fat. In the recipe here, I used two chickens and just trusted that the skin on them was enough. The result was less work and a delicious sausage.

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