Most people are familiar with smoked kielbasa, but kielbasa can also be made as a fresh sausage. Kielbasa, in fact, is a fairly generic term referring to a wide range of Polish sausages.
The definitive book on Polish sausage is Polish Sausages: Authentic Recipes and Instructions by Stanley and Adam Marianski with Miroslaw Gebarowski. The book is not only a deep reference on Polish sausages and sausage making in general, it also provides an interesting window into sausage making behind the Iron Curtain.
It’s so great to have a variety of sausages on hand to use in homemade dishes. Fresh or smoked, stuffed in casings of bulk sausage, hot or mild. Each type of sausage has its place. Many times I am looking for something to make a quick meal, and sausage is an easy pick. A vacuum sealer and a deep freeze ensure we can have a good supply at all times.
Having good equipment for making sausage also helps make the job a breeze. I have a heavy duty meat grinder with a 1hp motor and a wide range of plates to grind meats at different sizes. I also have a nice sausage stuffer that holds 5 kilograms (11 lbs.) of meat at a time. The only other pieces of equipment that are key are a few good knives and a couple of plastic food lugs to hold the meat and provide a place to mix in the spices.
If you read about The Saluminator, then you know that we have been doing a bit of meat curing. I was recently making some Coppa. Coppa is a cut of the pork shoulder from the muscle that extends down the neck and connects into the loin. I trim this piece off of a pork butt and cure it to make Coppa. Of course, that leaves a lot of meat for other uses. I already had my mind set on a garlicky fresh sausage of some sort.
The first step is to see how much meat there is. I remove the meat from the bone and separate the fat from the lean. Then I weigh each part to work out a recipe. So, from three pork butts, I got 5kg of lean and 2kg of fat. Generally, I am looking for three parts lean to one part fat (i.e., 75% lean). This was close enough. I cut everything in cubes from 1-2 inches in size. It does not have to be perfect, it just needs to be sized to fit in the feed hopper of the grinder. I put the meat and fat into plastic bags and place it in the freezer while I get everything else ready.
Next up is the spices. I normally weigh the salt, a habit I got into with making cured meats where salt content is critical, but this time I just measured by volume because it is not heavily salted and salt is not needed here for curing purposes. It’s just there for flavor. I use coarse Korean sea salt which is about the texture of Kosher salt. For 15 pounds of meat, I used 3T salt. I also added 2T dried marjoram, 1T dry mustard, 2 T cracked black peppercorns, 2t ground coriander, and 1T Hungarian paprika. Then we need garlic, lots of garlic. I used ½ cup of minced garlic; about 2 heads.
|The ground coriander and black pepper got buried by all the garlic!|
Out of the freezer comes the meat. It should be partially frozen and firm. This helps get an even grind. Grind the meat and fat through a 7mm or ¼” plate. Spread the spices over the meat and thoroughly mix. Pour 1-1/2 cups of cold water over the meat and mix some more. Take a small sample of the sausage and make a little patty. Fry the patty and taste to make sure the seasonings are right. If not, make adjustments.
Get the sausage casings ready. I used 32-35mm hog casings. They come salted, so they need to be rinsed. I first swirl the casings in water a few times, rinsing with fresh water. Then I hold an open end of a length of casing over the faucet with the rest of the casing in a large bowl. Let cool water flow through the casing. This will rinse out any salt and will work out any kinks in the casing.
Thread a length of casing over the appropriate stuffer horn on the sausage stuffer. Tie a knot in the end of the casing, and give it a little prick with a small skewer (I use the kind of skewer used to truss a turkey closed.) Fill the stuffer with meat and start cranking. If there are air bubbles in the sausage, pop them with the skewer. I fill the casing pretty firm for a sausage like this because I do not plan to tie it in links. If a sausage is made into links, it has to have a little slack so it does not pop when twisted into links.
That’s all there is to is. Well, there is a bit of clean up, but with practice, the cleanup is also not so bad. Besides, you now have a load of sausage as your reward!