And now for something completely different……

Yesterday, I did NOT go down to the Hands-On Museum and operate WA2HOM, as I usually do. Instead, I participated in a family tradition – making sausage before Christmas. Romanchik is a Slovak name, and the sausage we make, klobasa, is the Slovak version of the Polish sausage kielbasa. Yesterday, we only made 25 pounds, but in the past we have made up to 80 pounds in a single sausage-making session.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 10 pounds pork butt
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 3 cups water or ice
  • 1/4 pound sausage casings

The secret to making good klobasa is using just the right amount of garlic. When my family makes sausage, Brenda and I are in charge of adding the garlic. The first thing we do is peel one head of garlic for each ten pounds of meat. We then put the garlic in a blender, add some water, chop the garlic, and then let the mixture set for at least half an hour.

Next, we cut the pork butts, also known as Boston roasts. The butts average about 8 pounds and have a bone. To make sausage, you have to cut out the bone and then cut the meat into small cubes. While cutting, look for and remove any glands within the fat.

Cut away and discard unwanted fat and gristle, but don’t throw it all away. Fat absorbs the garlic and marjoram, and without it, the sausage will not be as flavorful as it could be.

Place the meat into a tub, add the spices, garlic, water or ice, and mix. We use ice instead of water. This adds the appropriate amount of moisture and keeps the meat fresh at the same time.

To get the proper amount of garlic, my sister and I add some garlic to the meat, lean over the tub and smell the mixture. Then, we look at each other, and say, “More garlic.” We repeat this until the smell is strong enough to suit us. One way we know that we’ve added enough garlic is if our mother can smell the garlic as she comes into the house.

After you’ve added enough garlic, let the meat mixture marinate for at least an hour. In the meantime, you can clean the casings. Natural casings come packed in salt, and before you can use them you have to rinse them, both inside and out with cold water.

The final step is to grind the meat and stuff the casings. The grinder we use has a sausage stuffer attachment so we grind and stuff in one step. To do this, you take a length of casing, tie a knot in one end, and slide the casing onto the sausage attachment. With this arrangement, the grinder grinds the meat right into the casing.

We package the sausage in plastic freezer bags and freeze most of it. In a good bag, the sausage will keep up to six months in the freezer.

I think this classifies as a home-brew project. What do you think?

Comments

  1. Dan,

    Thanks for the pleasant memory! My Dad and his brother (my Uncle Frank) opened up a small grocery store when they returned home from WWII. They specialized in home made Polish provisions; and their home made Polish fresh (not smoked) kielbasi became quite the hit with the Central NJ Polish community.

    Throughout the year, they would make a batch every other week or so, depending upon demand. But during the Easter and Cristmas seasons, it was not unusual for them to have made 1,000 pounds (total) for those Holidays.

    I spent a lot of time from my youth working for my Dad at the store; and I remember, as I grew older, boning out sides of beef, pork and veal to be ground up and used for the filling. I don’t remember the exact recipe, although I could probably approximate it. It was a closely held recipe that my Dad and my Uncle took with them ………

    But I remember had cranking the filling into sheep intestine – that was what we used for casing. It took a while to learn how to stuff correctly so that you got a nice. plump piece of kielbasi with bursting the casing.

    Everyone raved about their kielbasi, and it was always in high demand. Not surprisingly, as good as it was, my Dad would ever hardly touch the stuff. By the time a batch was made, he was so tired of making it, that he didn’t even want to eat it!

    73 de Larry W2LJ

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      Great story, Larry. I’d love to have your recipe, if you can figure it out again.

      You’re absolutely right about the skill needed to stuff a casing properly. After doing this for so many years, I’ve got this down pat. And, I can certainly sympathize with not wanting to even look at a sausage for a long while, much less eating one.

  2. Dan KB6NU says:

    One thing I failed to mention above is the garlic smell. No matter how many times you wash, that garlic smell stays on your hands for at least 24 hours after you’ve finished a batch of sausage.

    • Dan,

      Wash your hands under lukewarm water using a metal spoon as the “bar of soap”. There’s something about it, and I don’t know how or why it works, but the wet metal rubbing against your skin takes most of garlic or onion smell away.

      Larry W2LJ

  3. Mike/N8GBU says:

    Definately home brew Dan! Being Hungarian our church usually makes it around the holidays and is great! I never had the opprotunity to make it though. One of these days I’ll volunteer to help at the church to make it!

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