My grandparents had a small wild fennel field growing and there was a huge field of fennel growing elsewhere in the neighborhood as well. Those were the days when the neighborhood kids would meet up in the wild field of “licorice sticks,” some of which were taller than I, to play our imaginary games. Then there were times I’d help my grandmother collect pollen or help to dry the mature flower heads for culinary purposes.
Fast forward to today being in the kitchen with fennel on my mind - I always gravitate towards playing with seeds or pollen vs. using the bulb; I love the numerous possibilities there are to season something up, and I love the fragrant aroma of licorice filling my kitchen, as well.
I was inspired to create this recipe for various reasons: playing with seeds and pollen, thinking of a chicken-apple sausage show I watched on Emeril a few years ago and thinking about my Lemon Glazed Meatballs, a ground turkey recipe here on F52 that has pleased the palate of many. Anyway, with this recipe I combined the flavors I like, ones that make sense in my mind for sausage, I also added grated apple and carrot for a little sweetness. A combination of seeds and pollen were used, if you can’t get the pollen it will be fine without, although I recommend it…just remember that little goes a long way.
Today, with this sausage we made brunch sliders, melted shaved Grana Padano and added an egg. This recipe is so versatile; besides sliders you could grill, broil or fry patties for a breakfast side, or use it in a turkey dressing, for example. The choice is yours to make. Enjoy!
1-1/2 pound bulk sausage
1 tablespoon fennel seeds or 3/4 tablespoon seeds and 1/8 tsp. fennel pollen