Kielbasa

Kielbasa
Kielbasa
Beautiful Kielbasa!

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!

Ingredients

  • Seasoning:
    • 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
  • Meats:
    • 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
Hanging Kielbasa
Let em hang!

Recipe

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Mix the seasoning, and then mix it into the meat and fat. When done, put back into the freezer and cool back down.
  5. 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.
  6. Add ice water to the meat, and mix completely. Its very important to keep it all together!
  7. 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!
  8. Hang the sausages to dry in the open air in the room for 30-60 minutes.
  9. 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!
  10. If you can, hand the sausage in the fridge overnight. If you have to tray it, so be it, but hanging is better.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Hand to dry (or tray) till they dry off.
  14. 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.

Pierogi Recipe

Pierogi

Pierogi
Pierogi

Pierogi’s… the memories from my grandmother’s house as she rolled these out all weekend long! Simple dough filled pastries that can be boiled, deep fried, or sautéed in butter… man they are awesome. I even would steal them as she was making them and eat them after they were boiled (probably not the healthiest thing in the world, but they tasted good after they were prepared)!

Ingredients (makes 24)

Dough Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp rapid-rise dried yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • Lots of butter (for sautéing later), with onions and mushrooms!

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 lb potatoes
  • 3-4 tbsp. oil (vegetable)
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Recipe

Dough Recipe

  1. Warm milk, water, and melted butter to ~110 (for the yeast).
  2. Add in whisked whole egg with salt and sugar.
  3. Mix in the yeast with flour and stir, careful not to clump.
  4. Knead the dough for 5 minutes to mix thoroughly.
  5. Cover and place in a warm place, and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Filling Recipe

  1. Peel and cut potatoes, and boil in a pan with salted cold water.
  2. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onions until caramelized, but not burnt!
  4. Once the potatoes are done, drain, and allow steam to evaporate.
  5. Add potatoes and onions into a bowl, and mix and mash.
  6. Add the cheddar cheese and sour cream, salt and black pepper, and mix to taste.
  7. Set aside as the filling for the dough.

Make the Pierogi

  1. On a floured surface, knead the dough for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Cut the dough into 24 equal sized balls. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Flatten each ball into a round circle approximately 4 inches in diameter.
  4. Spread potato filling into the center.
  5. Fold the dough together into a half moon, and seal the edges. Press with the end of a fork if necessary.
  6. Delicately, add pierogi to boiling water, and boil for 2 minutes each. Remove and allow to cool and dry.
  7. At this point, you can freeze (once cooled) and separate with wax or parchment paper.
  8. To cook, add to a pan with onions, mushrooms, and generous butter. They should be sautéed till golden brown, but not burnt, turning frequently.
  9. Serve with sour cream.

Borscht Recipe

Borscht

Borscht
Borscht

Borscht – my all-time favorite soup. Hearty, soothing, and just down right awesome. And, if you have lots of root vegetables, a good fridge clearing event! Kids love it because of its color and flavor. Parents love it because it is a natural remedy for curing common colds and aches. And during Christmas – it is just perfectly festive! I recommend doubling the recipe since it takes so long, and this portion will go fast!

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

Borscht Ingredients

  • 5-6 beets (approximately 1 1/4 lb)
  • 3 carrots (shredded – 1 cup)
  • 1 cabbage wedge (shredded – 1 cup)
  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh chopped dill
  • Sour Cream
  • 4-6 lemon wedges for serving

Soup Stock Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 lb beef + bone (any will do, go as fatty or as lean as your tastes prefer)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 celeriac
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 peppercorns
  • 2-3 fresh parsley stalks
  • 1 tsp salt

Recipes

Soup Stock Recipe

  1. Place beef (and bone) into a large pot. Add water and bring to boil.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Skim off any fat / oil / residue that boils off.
  4. Add cleaned and stripped carrot, parsnip, celeriac, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley and salt to the pot.
  5. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  6. Remove vegetables and spices from the pot and discard.
  7. Remove meat (and bone) from the pot. Cut the meat into small chunks. Set aside for later.

Borscht Recipe

  1. Add cleaned and stripped beets and carrots to the pot.
  2. Bring to boil, then reduce and simmer for 40 minutes.
  3. Remove the beets and carrots from the pan and cool.
  4. Add sliced / shredded cabbage and sliced onions, plus diced potatoes, to the pot.
  5. Bring back to boil, then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Grate (coarse) the beets and carrots, and add to the pot.
  7. Add tomato paste, sugar and salt to the pot.
  8. Add the meat from earlier to the pot.
  9. Return to simmer for 10 minutes.
  10. Serve in bowls, topped with sour cream and fresh dill, with a side lemon wedge.