I chose four basic sausages from Meijer to sample: Bob Evans Original Links, Bob Evans Maple Pork Sausage Links, Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausage, and Johnsonville Vermont Maple Syrup Breakfast Sausage. I decided to test out both the flavor and the technique of cooking it in the pan. Ideally, I would have done a "blind taste test", but Jeff and I aren't biased enough to care.
All the sausage's casings were removed before cooking, to keep with the style of cooking the recipe has.
Johnsonville Original Recipe Breakfast Sausage:
I accidentally cooked this with too much oil, which I was able to drain for the most part. For the cooking, I added it as whole sausages, then worked with my flat ended spoon to separate it, like ground beef. The taste was good, and we figured it could absorb any flavors presented with it well.
Johnsonville Vermont Maple Syrup Breakfast Sausage:Upon opening the package, I could immediately smell the maple syrup. Instead of separating the sausage in the pan, I tried it beforehand in the bowl with a flat ended wooden spoon. Upon placing it into the pan, I found I had to separate my patty of mashed sausage. A bit more difficult than not having taken the time to mash it at all. Lesson learned. It had a very pleasant mild syrup taste to it.
Bob Evans Original Links:
Instead of mashing with a wooden spoon, I attempted to keep more of the air in the mixture by using a fork to separate the sausages. I still had to re-separate the sausage in the pan, but it wasn't nearly as troublesome. I think this method worked the best. The sausage had a very basic taste. Not bad, just basic.
Bob Evans Maple Pork Sausage Links:
These sausages I let keep their sausage-y forms for a longer period, until they were about 1/4 cooked. This actually made it way harder to break up than any of the other attempts, because the cooked meat was binded to the other cooked meat. This sausage was deemed the winner of the taste test. Even though the taste wasn't as syrupy as the other brand's, it had a richer flavor than the Johnsonville sausages.
One of the more interesting things we noticed was that there was a definitive flavor difference between the two brands sampled.
While I realize there are plenty of other sausages available to sample, I'm quite happy with the choice we made. Now, all that's left is to try it with the recipe!