Ever since hearing my grandparents’ stories of making kobasica (Croatian sausage) back in Europe, I’ve always wanted to make my own. But since I don’t have a smokehouse……..yet, I thought why not make fresh Polish kielbasa. Kielbasa was a staple at my house growing up since my family went to the “Polish Store” to get all of our smoked meats, bread, and other staples. There were unfortunately no places at the time to buy Croatian food near me, but we were very fortunate to have a large Polish population in the town over. Their food is very similar to continental Croatian cuisine–the typical Central European staples of cabbage, pork, sour cream, and potatoes. And although it isn’t quite as good (in my biased opinion), it’s still delicious and very homey for me.
Tip #1: Grinding and stuffing works best with cold meat, so make sure to keep the pork in the fridge when not working with it.
Tip #2: Make sure not to go too lean with the meat because the taste will suffer. What’s the point really when you are not going to make the nutritional content of kielbasa equivalent to kale salad anyway! Instead I practice portion control and counteract it with a lot of delicious and healthy sides like lacto-fermented sauerkraut (if you don’t make your own, Hawthorne Valley Farm‘s is amazing), beet salad, and our typical summer salad of chopped tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and onions (super simple and healthy, I’ll have to feature it in a future blog post). In lieu of fries, you’d be surprised at how great this is with the humble boiled potato seasoned with a dash of salt.
- Hog casings (you can get these dried online or you can make friends with your local slavic butcher and get fresh ones)
- About 4 lbs of boneless pork shoulder
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2 Tbsp chopped garlic, plus more to taste
- 3 Tbsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp marjoram
Soak the hog casings as directed on the package, if using dried, then store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Grind the pork with a meat grinder, if you have. If you don’t have one, you can cut the meat in small pieces and chop in a blender or food processor. Just be sure to not “puree” it. Place the ground pork in a large bowl.
Next mix the water, garlic, salt, pepper and marjoram in a small bowl. Combine with the meat, making sure to completely incorporate the spices. To ensure the seasoning is good, cook a small piece on the stove in some olive oil. This will prevent some tears down the line when you realize you should have added more garlic or salt! Adjust the seasoning if necessary, then cook and try another piece.
Attach the sausage funnel to the meat grinder and lightly coat with cooking spray or oil. Knot one end of the casing and slide the other onto the funnel until the knot is at the opening. Place the meat in the grinder and as the meat is forced out and into the casing, make sure to guide it so that it fills to your desired thickness. The casing is delicate so make sure not to overstuff it, but keep in mind that the sausage will shrink as it cooks. When it is stuffed to your desired length, tie a knot at the end and cut it off. Repeat with the remaining meat.
To cook, place it in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Make sure to first pierce with a fork in a few places to allow air to escape and prevent it from exploding. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer, uncovered, for about an hour. If eating right away, place it in a 350 degree oven or grill it to brown. Serve with a German mustard such as Thomy or Schaller & Weber’s brand as well as the aforementioned sides.
If you plan to freeze it, first allow it to cool. It will last for a few months, but keep in mind that the taste will change over time (because of the salt content), so don’t keep it for more than three. FYI, you can also freeze it uncooked.