Originally Posted by boar_d_laze
This is getting way too complicated.
Your intuition was correct. You can do breakfast sausage patties the same way you'd do meatballs providing you're buying the pork already ground.
All that cold rigamarole is a way of dealing with the fat's texture and applies if you're doing huge quantities or grinding your own meat. If you are grinding, you want that meat and fat as cold as possible. Even semi-frozen is good. When grinding very cold, the connective tissue cuts cleanly and the fat retains its integrity without becoming greasy. Cold will not only give you a better grind but the grinder and the surrounding zip-code will be easier to clean afterward. Cold is even more important using a food processor.
You've never broken a mixture, I take it. Yes, sure, if you're using pre-ground meat, you don't have to worry --- assuming you trust your butcher. But you'd better have a very good conception of what the fat ratio is. As to grinding your own, you can warm that stuff darn quick if you don't pay some attention, and if you do that you will have a broken mix. It's not just greasy cutting or messiness --- it's a sausage that weeps huge quantities of fat and leaves you crumbly nasties to eat.
Think about it like emulsion, to which it is related. If you break a Hollandaise, no amount of saying "well, it's all the same flavors together" will stop it being a mix of curdled eggs and greasy fat. Similarly, if you break a meat mixture, you will have dry, crumbly meat nasties and a puddle of fat. A good sausage keeps it all bound together so it's juicy and delicious. If you ever make an emulsified sausage, like a hot dog, you'll quickly see just where the line lies: emulsion = hot dog, broken = disgusting.
It's not complicated at all. Keep it cold. That's all. Same with pate: if you've ever had a dry pate floating in a puddle of grease, you broke the mixture; if you'd kept everything dead cold every step of the way it wouldn't have happened and you'd have had good pate. KEEP IT COLD.