My family has always had Kielbasa around the holidays. Christmas, Easter, you name it. Kielbasa was something that we ate, my grandparents made it, and as an adult – I have searched for it everywhere! And no matter where I found it, I was always disappointed with what I found – no one made it like the Polish and Russians! So, I have a good friend Kevin that suggested “lets make our own!” I had to track down a recipe from my family, and get it translated to English… and I admit, I was intimidated. It was so easy (with the right equipment, which Kevin had!)!
On the first bite, I was transported back to my childhood. I was giddy the first time we made this, as I couldn’t believe how easy and how perfect the flavors were! I cannot tell you how happy this made me, given that it is 2020 and this year was… weird. This was a blast of comfort!
Note – this recipe is in metric. I’m putting in the conversions to imperial units, but stick to the metric!
- 40g (4.5 tbsp) kosher salt
- 5g (0.5 tbsp) cure salt
- 5g (0.5 tbsp) ground black pepper
- 1g (0.5 tsp) dried marjoram
- 10g (1 tbsp) brown sugar
- 6 garlic cloves (chopped fine)
- 5g (0.5 tbsp) garlic powder
- 1g (0.5 tsp) mustard seed
- 1.5kg (3.3 lbs) pork butt (Boston butt, shoulder, or some variant)
- 0.5kg (1.1 lbs) venison (I prefer venison, but a game meat is important! You can use boar or some other game)
- 0.75kg (1.7 lbs) pork fat (if you can get it, which typically you cannot, so brisket or beef fat will work just as well)
- 120ml (0.5 cup) ice water
- Hog / pig casings
- Lightly freeze the meats and fat in the freezer. You will want to keep the meats slightly frozen the entire time. Not rock hard, not refrigerator cold – but slightly frozen. You don’t want the fat to get warm or it will melt.
- Soak the hog casings in room temperature warm water. Wash them gently, and use the tap to get water into the hog casing and wash them out. Take your time, they will get knotted and tangle, patiently untangle them and don’t let them tear.
- Cut the meat and fat into 2.5cm (or 1 inch) chunks. The goal here is to make the grind easy, and keep the coating of the spices even over everything.
- Mix the seasoning, and then mix it into the meat and fat. When done, put back into the freezer and cool back down.
- Grind the meat with a very coarse grind. The goal here is to grind everything up, but you don’t want it to be fine. Believe me – coarse is the way to go! When you are done, put back into the freezer and cool back down.
- Add ice water to the meat, and mix completely. Its very important to keep it all together!
- Stuff the sausage into the casings. Traditional kielbasa is a long tube around 60cm in length, tied at the end into a loop. If you can’t do it, then prepare how you like, but trust me – you will want a longer sausage since you will absolutely love these!
- Hang the sausages to dry in the open air in the room for 30-60 minutes.
- Check each sausage for air pockets, and remove the air pockets with a hot needle or knife. Pack them tight – and pop out all the air! If you think you got all the air pockets, check again, cause there is likely more!
- If you can, hand the sausage in the fridge overnight. If you have to tray it, so be it, but hanging is better.
- Smoke the sausage in a cold smoker or a very low warm smoker. Ideally 82c (180f) till the sausage gets to 68c (155f). You do not want the fat to melt, but you want a solid smoke on the sausages! I admit, when I smoked, I kept the smoker at 140f for 4 hours, and then turned it up to finish it off. Should take 3-4 hours. Lower temperature for longer time for stronger smoke flavor.
- Put the sausages into a ice water bath immediately after removing from the smoker to shock them and stop the cook. I was worried about this washing off all the good smoke, but trust me, this is awesome! And you will not lose any appreciable smoke.
- Hand to dry (or tray) till they dry off.
- Vacuum seal or cook and eat!
Cooking Kielbasa (the right way!)
This one is a bit of a personal thing, but… sauté the sausages on the stove, in a frying pan, with butter, onions, and mushrooms. The flavor imparts a lot, and the sausages will taste amazing. You can cut them into smaller chunks to make them more bite sized, but DO NOT BOIL them.