One of the most important culinary contributions Poland has granted to the world is the glorious and absolutely delicious kielbasa, which is a type of smoked sausage. It is a staple in the homes of many Polish-Americans, whether it is for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Many Polish-American families also grill it during the summer, add it to a pot of heart winter soup. Whatever the season, whatever the time of day, kielbasa is a dish everyone enjoys.
What is it exactly?
Many gyro spots all over America will tell you that kielbasa is the Polish word for sausage, serving as an umbrella term for all types of Polish sausages. In reality, there are hundreds of different kinds of sausages from Poland. It is only in the states has this been simplified to make things easier.
Gyro spots might have different recipes and ratios of meat in their kielbasa, but they are all generally made the same way. The meat is cured and ground with fat. It is then enriched with spices like garlic and marjoram, and then stuffed into an intestine or casing. Finally, the sausage is smoked and dried.
This is the flavor for which kielbasa is known: the smokeyness. It also bears a slight crunch in the skin, with a chewy and greasy center. It is also popular for its high meat content, especially since the smoking and drying process shrinks the meat.
Polish delis and authentic gyro spots are the best place to find kielbasa. If you live in an area with a rich Polish population, you are likely to find at least one establishment that sells authentic Polish sausages.
The different types of kielbasa
The most common types of kielbasa found across America are the following:
- The Myliwska or hunter’s style kielbasa is a short, dark brown sausage roughly an inch in diameter. This is a heavily smoked sausage perfect for a camping trip for its long shelf life.
- The Krakowska comes from Krakow, and has a recipe that is over 400 years old. It is a wider sausage with over 2 inches in diameter. When served, it is sliced very thinly and used as cold cuts in sandwiches.
- The Kabanosy, which is a long and thin sausage comparable to the size of a Slim Jim. It is often served as an appetizer or snack.
How do I eat it?
Most kielbasa is already fully cooked. If you hope to eat it as is or to slice it down for cold cuts, go for a sausage that is darker and wrinklier. You can just literally munch on these sausages as a snack right out of the pack.
If you plan to add it and cook it as part of another dish, look for links that are lightly-browned and less shriveled. This pale brown kielbasa is perfect for breakfast. It can be sliced into small pieces and fried on a pan until it is crispy. There are also countless Polish recipes that make use of the sausage.
If you’re looking for diversity in your meals and cuisines, you could give Polish cuisine a shot by trying all the different types of kielbasa—including all the ways they’re prepared. Kielbasa, after all, were created to be a filling and hearty meal.
If you’re looking for a local gyro spot in Chesterton, IN that serves the glorious kielbasa, send us at George’s Gyros Spot a message. We offer drive-thru services for people on the go, dine in, call ahead, and carry out.