Oh the thrill of foraging, collecting nature's bounty and living off the fat of the land. The gemutlich platters of hand-crafted sausages dipped in spiced mustards of one's own creation. The only thing that can possibly add to all this joy is "There's no place like home," which is the case here in this recipe for dandelion sausages with veal.
In this case, the dandelions are the aforementioned fat of the land (backyard), accompanied by some fat from the IGA, in the form of fresh pork belly, panchetta, veal and a few other things. But still, I dare you not to feel virtuous spending a Saturday weeding the yard (note those tap roots!), putting the not-inexpensive meat grinder and sausage stuffer through their paces while churning out some impressive lengths of toothsome links.
I did feel a little reckless bragging about uprooting the dandelions in toto — isn't this the kind of mindset that stripped the north Atlantic of cod? Killed off the bison? Isn't this just another manifestation of our heritage of believing in a limitless abundance of anything? What if there are no dandelions for our children?
These dark thoughts reminded me of that infamous TV commercial LBJ used to smash Goldwater in '64. The irony would have been ecstatically unbearable if the little girl had been fooling around with a dandelion, as I first thought. A quick check recalled it was an innocent daisy that got nuked along with her. Why does that girl look like a Cindy? No matter, atomic holocaust reduces all the the world's Cindy's — be they Crawford, Brady, Lauper, Sherman or Lou Who — and the daisies and daffodils too, into cinders.
Like the old song goes, smoke 'em if ya got 'em. So go heedlessly pull a big mess of dandelions and get cranking on these sausages.
DANDELION SAUSAGES WITH VEAL
1 c. young dandelion leaves, well washed and dried
1 T. butter
1/2 lb. fresh pork belly
1/4 lb. pancetta
1 1/2 lb. ground veal
4 T. heavy cream
4 T. panko bread crumbs
pinch of nutmeg
Roughly chop the carefully cleaned dandelion leaves. Melt the butter in a skillet cook the dandelion just until wilted. Remove from heat and let cool.
Combine the cream and panko and let sit for five minutes or so, until it's all mush.
If your fresh pork belly has the skin layer on it, as mine did, trim it off and discard it. Run the pork belly and the pancetta through the large holes of a meat grinder. In a large bowl use a spatula to mix everything very thoroughly (except the casings): wilted dandelions, ground pork belly, pancetta, veal, soaked panko, a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper.
At this point you should take a little bit of the mix, form a patty, and fry it. Taste it. If anything needs fixing, now's the time.
Fit a length of sausage casing on the large funnel of your grinder, and stuff the sausages. Here's a video we did on stuffing (the turducken recipe but the process is pretty much the same every time.)