The Coal Region and kielbasa go hand-in-hand. Their connection to Poland and the immigrants who came to Northeast Pennsylvania is strong. We have contests for “the best” kielbasa, festivals celebrating this favored sausage (Shenandoah, PA, Plymouth, PA), wait in lines for it at church festivals and picnics, and take it to church in baskets n Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday) to be blessed.
One of the most recognized landmarks in Schuylkill County is Kowalonek’s Kielbasy Shop (their spelling) on Main Street in Shenandoah, PA. People who no longer live in the area make pilgrimages to the shop around Christmas and Easter, often taking orders for friends and family resulting in purchases of 20 pounds or more at one time. Locals endure long waits in lines that seem to drag to get their “fix” of this coal region comfort food.
kiel·ba·sa (/kilˈbäsə), noun
a type of highly seasoned Polish sausage, typically containing garlic.
Here in the Coal Region, we pronounce it “keel-BAH-see”.
Kielbasa is the Polish general name for “a sausage”. If you find yourself in a Polish deli or restaurant, you’ll likely find several types of kielbasa: farmer’s, fresh, Krakow-style. The most popular kiełbasa there is also called “Kiełbasa Polska” (“Polish Sausage”) or “Kiełbasa Starowiejska” (“Old Countryside Sausage”). This one comes closest to what is generally known in America as “kiełbasa” (smoked and in a large “u-shaped” link).
Every cook who makes kielbasa swears their recipe is the best. Every cook. And they are right — it is the one they like best. Every variation has its fans and I encourage you to try your hand at making your own kielbasa and, perhaps, develop a new family tradition! If you cannot get “home” or find a favorite kielbasa near you, here is the answer — homemade kielbasa.
This recipe makes about 5 pounds of sausage.
Preparing Natural Hog Casings Basics
Hog casings are the preferred casing for kielbasa. You can purchase them in many grocery stores and butcher shops. If you are unfamiliar with working with casings or just need a bit of a refresher, the video below will help with the process.
Stuffing The Casing
The basic technique for using the stuffing attachment is the same whether you are using a Kitchen Aid mixer or a hand-crank machine. This video will walk you through the basics you should understand when making sausage links.
This recipe is for FRESH kielbasa, meant to be baked in the oven. If you want to make SMOKED kielbasa, you need to add a “curing salt” (Instacure #1 or Prague Powder #1 for example) to the mix to help with prevention of botulism, aid in preservation, and enhance the flavor of the smoked product. THIS RECIPE DOES NOT ADDRESS THAT NEED and is for FRESH (non-smoked) kielbasa only! The procedure for making this smoked is not addressed in this post.
Fresh Kielbasa ICourse: EntreeCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate
Flavorful and juicy, this fresh kielbasa requires no smoking, just bake it in the oven.
6 feet natural hog casings
3 pound lean pork butt, cubed and partially frozen
1 pound lean beef chuck, cubed and partially frozen
1/2 pound veal, cubed and partially frozen
1/2 pound pork fat, cubed and partially frozen
2 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper (coarse ground is best)
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard seed
2 teaspoons ground marjoram
3 – 4 cloves garlic, finely minced or to taste
- Equipment Needed
Meat grinder fitted with a coarse disk
Sausage stuffing attachment
- Prepare casings.
- Grind the partially frozen meats and fat together through a coarse disk.
- Mix remaining ingredients with 1 cup ice water and then with the meat.
- Stuff casings, length of 18 inches to 2 feet recommended
- Allow to dry in cool place 3 to 4 hours or refrigerate 24 hours.
- Cook by roasting in 425F oven for 45 minutes.
- Partially freezing the meat cubes and the pork fat assists in easier grinding of the meat.