Iíve now had three weeks to think back on my kielbasa project and I couldnít have been happier with the outcome, my local friends were all really pleased with the outcome as well as my grandparents and the recipients on the East coast. If it wasnít for the fact Iím moving this weekend (donít worry Pac NW folks, just to another part of Seattle) I would have already have done another batch or two. But donít worry, more sausage and my new smoker is eventually on the way.
So this diary entry basically summarizes the results of the first batch of kielbasa. First will be my thoughts then I'll follow them with a professional's opinion. I felt that the unsmoked kielbasaís flavor wasnít strong enough and this feeling applies to the smoked links as well since the smokiness was the most predominant flavor even with the second batch and soaking the first batch. Now for a comparison: a week later all of my cased sausage was gone (this is a good thing) so I purchased some commercial ďsmokedĒ kielbasa for some red beans and rice. If the package didnít say smoked I never would have guessed, but this is a national brand that is produced and distributed on a national level and Iím sure they comply with whatever regulations stipulate the minimum amount of smoking to be declared ďsmoked.Ē Anyway, the biggest difference I could detect aside from the smokiness is the strength of pepper. My kielbasa was definitely under peppered; I credit jhlurie for noticing this on his own. And of course, I thought that my kielbasa could use at least 50% more garlic and will probably use 100% more garlic in the next batch. Hopefully I can overshoot! As for the rest of the sausage, I thought the texture of the ground meat was perfect though the first batchís casing/skin was too tough. But the tough and wrinkled skin was due to smoking that batch too long, resulting in the pork fat rendering out and leaving too much casing. I was quite happy with the mouthfeel of my kielbasa and am quite proud of how smooth it was.
But forget the amateurís opinion, my Grandfather received some of my kielbasa and my Grandmother prepared it, both of whom used to make kielbasa back in the day. Hereís his response:
Had some of your Kielbasa Monday eveing for dinner. Rarely have it for lunch, kielbasa is a dinner favorite.
First of all, it is still a surprise to me to know about all your adventures in cooking, sausage making and even in home brews of beer. The sausage was suprisingly good Matt. But I can only help you a little bit. One thing that was obvious was that the meat was ground up too fine. Typically it seems, Kielbasa meat is very chunky or heavily ground. And that kielbasa is more chewy. I don't know if the mixture requires a greater portion of beef or whether a more chunky texture will afford the final product the heavier body and chewiness. Maybe both, more beef and chunkier grind.
Not only that, my Mother and I have been talking about the kielbasa as well:
So how about sending me some kielbasa? I stayed at my grandparents house for a while each summer. Grandma would bring in the sausage fresh from the smoker for our lunch. And of course that is the only kielbasa that our family ever ate. And we ate it at nearly every holiday and birthday and for whatever reason there was to eat.
My mom should be able to help you with the seasonings and the texture. Do you remember her index finger? It's stubby. She was helping her Dad make sausage and stuck her finger in the grinder. She was quite young and, boy, did Grandpa get in trouble with his wife.
As she has always told me, the kielbasa was basically pork , beef and garlic, but hereís her most recent email regarding the kielbasa:
Loved the diaries - you are so entertaining.
As I recall Uncle Ed's comments re the recipe, he said it was pork, beef, garlic and pepper. (emphasis added)
Once you perfect your recipe, and you are hounded for bounteous amounts of sausage, my Dad and I will put our heads together and reproduce blueprints of Grandpa's smokehouse. It was about the size of a one seat outhouse, and seemed about 6 or 7 ft tall. Maybe 4 ft square at the base, rounded top. Links of 12" sausage hung from poles about half way down the structure.
This is an awesome endeavor on your part. Such a tribute to my mother's family, and your Polish heritage.
Gotta get back to work. Love you, Mom.
Great, NOW she tells me. (sssh! sheís reading this, donít tell her!!!)
So in summary, I had a tasty product but a product that wasnít exactly kielbasa. I still have at least 2lbs of uncased kielbasa sitting in my freezer and (hopefully) the week after Thanksgiving Iíll start on my second batch of sausage and Iíll make an attempt on round 2 of the kielbasa chronicles as well as take a stab at a whole new sausage paradigm which is at this point Italian sausage.
Oh, I really donít have any new pictures but I thought Iíd at least show you where Iíve been writing all of these journals:
That and this picture taken less than 15 minutes from where my parents live in Upper Michigan, an area that is serious about itís deer hunting:
FYI the new deer hunting season is about to start!
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edited for content, basically somebody didn't like the fact I was drinking Black Velvet so it's been replaced with Rum and Crangerine.
Edited by col klink, 22 November 2002 - 05:51 PM.