Paul L. Hayden / Lake Superior Magazine
Recipe Box: Pie Place Maple Sausage Patties
“What’s on our table reflects the season as surely as the natural world unfolding around us. As a restaurant family, we always loved the changing of the seasons, and the new flavors that each imparts. Our seasonal menus … were meant to say, ‘We are here together. Let us celebrate all that is good, true and beautiful.’”
So Kathy Rice begins her newest cookbook filled with recipes developed over the years at The Pie Place Café and with stories of Grand Marais, Minnesota, locals and visitors who have dined at their tables.
Her book, produced by publishers of this magazine, revels in seasonal foods and in the seasons that impact who we are in our Lake Superior neighborhood.
For the Pie Place family, this year marks an important change as the next generation develops its own path. The café transformed this year into a carry-out service for pies – the true base of the original restaurant – and continues its catering services for local community and private events. Because of that change, Kathy has felt comfortable revealing several of the recipes that, until now, the restaurant has kept secret.
The special caramelized Maple Sausage Patties featured here had guests clamoring for more. The secret to this recipe, says Kathy, is to use real maple syrup. True to their mission of providing fresh local foods, the Pie Place used Wild Country, a brand produced on a 320-acre family-owned sugarbush in Lutsen, Minnesota.
The photo above shows the sausages and another Pie Place favorite: the creamy, dreamy Pie Place Breakfast Potatoes. It’s another secret recipe that you’ll find in the book that comes out in May.
Pie Place Maple Sausage Patties
For 8 to 9 patties
- 1 lb. ground pork sausage from butcher or 1 (12 oz.) pkg. (we like John Morrell)
- 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
- 1-1/2 Tbsp. + 1/3 c. real maple syrup (we use Wild Country). The extra syrup is for drizzling on patties in the fry pan.
For 22 to 24 patties
- 3 lb. ground pork sausage from butcher or 3 (12 oz.) pkg. (we like John Morrell)
- 1-1/2 tsp. garlic salt
- 1/3 c. + 2/3 c. real maple syrup (we use Wild Country). The extra syrup is for drizzling on patties in the fry pan.
Combine the ground sausage, garlic salt and maple syrup in a mixing bowl. Combine ingredients completely, but do not overwork. Form sausage mixture into patties uniform in size and thickness, about 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Place the patties in a large non-stick frying pan. Drizzle remaining maple syrup over patties, so the entire pan is covered with a thin layer of syrup (if you’re frying them in two batches for the larger recipe, divide the extra syrup between the two batches). Turn heat to medium.
Here is the key to caramelizing the maple sausage patties:
1) Allow extra time and stay very close to the stove during the cooking process. The patties can go from golden brown perfection to burnt very quickly!
2) Watch for the syrup to foam and bubble; that’s when the browning process begins. Do not flip or move the patties until you check one, by lifting it gently with a spatula to see if sausage patty is browned.
3) With a non-stick spatula, flip the browned patty so that cooked side is up. Let the other side brown, check as before and flip again so that its face is down in the syrup. Allow the patty to caramelize, and then flip it again. This is how the patties will have the satiny glaze on the outside. Check for a nice browned glaze before you flip each time. Do not allow to burn!
4) You have to work fast at this point because the syrup will not stay at the foamy stage long before the syrup and the pork fat separate.
5) Remove patties from pan when both sides are golden brown and caramelized. Place on a baking tray or serving dish and repeat the process to complete the remaining batch of ground sausage mixture.
Chef’s note: We have included an ingredients list for a smaller family-sized batch of maple sausage patties, and one to accommodate a larger gathering. Any extra cooked maple sausage patties can be frozen for later use. Just place them in a flat sealed container with wax paper between patties.
Chef’s note on cleanup: After years of making maple sausage patties, I recommend that you have an empty can available in which to pour the hot syrup from frying pan. While the pan is still hot, very carefully wipe it clean with paper towel. The caramelized maple syrup is extremely sticky and is more easily cleaned while the pan is still hot.