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Breakfast sausage (or country sausage) is a type of fresh pork sausage usually served at breakfast in the United States. It is a common breakfast item in traditional American "farmer" or "country" breakfasts, as it originated as a way for farmers to make use of as much of their livestock (usually pigs) as possible. Often, scraps and trimmings that would ordinarily be fed to a dog or discarded were instead ground, seasoned, refrigerated and later consumed by the farmer as an inexpensive, high-protein morning meal.
Breakfast sausage is not cured or smoked. It is essentially highly seasoned ground meat, so it does not keep and should be stored and handled appropriately. Newer variations made from pork and beef mixtures as well as poultry can now be found. There are also vegetarian varieties that use textured vegetable protein in place of meat. In America, the predominant spices used for seasoning are pepper and sage, although there are varieties also seasoned with cayenne pepper, or even maple syrup. Some breakfast sausage is flavored with cured ham.
Most commonly served as patties or slices from a large roll, breakfast sausage also comes in links of various lengths and diameters. It is normally fried in a pan. Some people like to pour ketchup or other condiments like maple syrup onto their breakfast sausages. Cooked breakfast sausage is also commonly mixed into egg casseroles before baking, and is a central component of sausage gravy. Sausage patties are commonly sold on an English muffin with cheese and egg at fast food restaurants, and can also be sold on toast, biscuits and croissants.