Home » Charcuterie » Smoked Sausage and Meat Recipes » How to Make Polish Kielbasa (Swojska)

How to Make Polish Kielbasa (Swojska)

by Victor @ Taste of Artisan

Learn how to make authentic Polish kielbasa (sausage) at home. The name of this kielbasa is Swojska, which means homemade or self-made. It's one of the best and most flavorful Polish sausages. Cooked in a smoker for best flavor.| Taste of Artisan

Ever wondered how to make kielbasa at home? It’s actually not that difficult, and really worth it, so there is no excuse not to make your own kielbasa. Homemade smoked Polish and Ukrainian sausages are in the league of their own.

When I was growing up my grandpa would make these sausages once or twice a year – the event that everyone was looking forward to. His sausages were so flavorful, so well-textured that you could just eat them on their own, without bread or any side dishes.

Here is my attempt to recreate his Polish Swojska kielbasa, which translates to Polish homemade (or self-made) sausage. Actually, this is my 20th or 30th attempt. I think it’s pretty close now. This sausage is probably my favorite smoked sausage by far.

Learn how to make authentic Polish kielbasa (sausage) at home. The name of this kielbasa is Swojska, which means homemade or self-made. It's one of the best and most flavorful Polish sausages.| Taste of Artisan

Grinding the meat

Preparation is very easy. Grind meat and fat. Add spices and mix. Staff into hog casings and smoke. That’s it. Though, there are a few things to keep in mind, and I will talk about them below.

The choice of meat is important. Pick the best and the freshest meat you can. The better and the fresher the meat, the better your sausage will taste. Grind the meat and the fat on a medium grinder plate: 4.5mm (3/16″) to 6mm (1/4″). Grind it too fine and you will lose the texture.

If you plan on making sausages at home for years to come, which is an excellent idea from where I stand, get yourself a good meat grinder. If you get a cheapo consumer grade grinder, it will be a waste of money and you will be cursing it every time you use it. I know, I’ve been there. A good commercial quality meat grinder makes a huge difference – it grinds much faster, it accepts a wider range of grinder plates, it’s more powerful and grinds clean and with definition instead of squishing the meat and smearing the fat. It’s also easier to clean and it lasts longer.

When the time came to replace my consumer grade meat grinder I settled on a LEM Products Stainless Steel #8 Meat Grinder and could not be happier with it. At 36 lbs, it’s a bit heavy but quite manageable even for my wife to handle when she needs to use it and I am not around. But, boy, can it grind! It grinds just about anything with ease and speed. For example, it can grind 10-15 lbs of meat in a matter of 2 minutes. It puts a smile on my face every time I use it. It’s built like a tank and I have a feeling I will never have to buy another grinder.

Making authentic Polish kielbasa (sausage) at home. Grinding Meat.| Taste of Artisan

Stuffing

When stuffing your sausages try not to stuff too tight as that may result in burst casings. You want the sausages to feel slightly firm, but not too tight.

Making authentic Polish kielbasa (sausage) at home. Stuffing meat in casings.| Taste of Artisan

I find that manual sausage stuffers are the best, like the LEM Products 5 Pound Stainless Steel Vertical Sausage Stuffer that I use. It’s perfect in every respect. Well, almost. If had to do it over again and had a bigger wallet I would go with a 15 pound stuffer just so I don’t have to reload the meat once or twice when stuffing. It’s not a big deal though, It’s one of those things that are only nice to have.

I like to use natural hog casings, which are available at pretty much any grocery store’s meat counter. They don’t usually have them on display, but ask and they will be happy to sell them to you. If that fails, they are available for purchasing online too: Hog Home Pack Sausage Casings 32mm.

Update on June 30, 2016

Amazon now sells relatively inexpensive sausage stuffers like the ARKSEN 8 Pound Vertical Sausage Stuffer and the ARKSEN 15 Pound Vertical Sausage Stuffer. I don’t know how they compare to LEM stuffers quality-wise, but the reviews seem to be very good. Price-wise, a 15 pound ARKSEN stuffer sells for about as much as the 5 pound LEM stuffer does. I think these are definitely worth looking at if you are on the market for a new sausage stuffer.

If you own a KitchenAid stand mixer you may be tempted to try the KitchenAid Sausage Stuffer Kit Attachment. I know, it’s cheap, and it’s easy to use. I couldn’t resist and ordered one. What a waste of money! I was sorely disappointed by the results. The meat would get squished around, creating a mess and causing fat smearing all over meat pieces. Meat grinders/stand mixers are just not designed for stuffing sausages.

Smoking your kielbasa

I suppose you could cook this kielbasa in the oven, without smoke and get a tasty sausage, but it won’t be even close to Swojska kielbasa. For that you need a smoker. Smoke flavor is a seasoning by itself, and there is no substitution for it. No, liquid smoke is not a substitute for real smoke!

If you use a charcoal or a wood smoker, smoke generation is simple: throw a few wood chunks in the pit and off you go. Gas and electric smokers require some sort of a smoke generator.

There are many ways to go about smoke generation, from DIY solutions (a tin can with a handful of wood chips) to inexpensive pre-made devices like A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker or it’s sibling A-MAZE-N Pellet Tube Smoker, to fairly expensive ones like Smoke Daddy Smoke Generator.

Making authentic Polish kielbasa (sausage) at home. Smoke generator for that amazing smoky flavor.| Taste of Artisan

I’ve been using the A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker in my vertical Masterbuilt XL gas smoker for many years and it does the trick really well. Here are a few tips on using these smoke generators based on my experience:

Tip #1

Start the smoke with a propane torch with a Pencil Flame Propane Torch Head. This makes things very easy. You can pick it up on Amazon or at most local hardware stores.

Tip #2

Use very good quality pellets.  Read carefully what’s included and make sure you are buying pellets made from 100% the wood you want, and that there are no binders or fillers are added. My wood of choice is cherry wood. I once bought cherry wood pellets only to realize that they were made mostly of oak and maple with only 30% cherry wood. Needless to say, I was not happy with the flavor of the smoke. BBQrs Delight Wood Pellets are one example of very good quality wood pellets.

Smoker temperature

The key to smoking Swojska kielbasa sausage is low temperature. If you raise the temperature too high, the fat will start melting and you will end up with holes in the sausage. It’s best to smoke this sausage at around 140F. If you can’t go that low, try 150F or 160F max. You may raise the temperature slightly to 170-175F at the end of the cooking process for a brief period of time if internal temperature is not rising to target internal temperature of 154F.

Sometimes the internal temperature just won’t rise and you may have to go as high as 195F, and that’s fine. It does happen every now and again. Better yet, try the poaching method I will talk about below.

Learn how to make authentic Polish kielbasa (sausage) at home. The name of this kielbasa is Swojska, which means homemade or self-made. It's one of the best and most flavorful Polish sausages.| Taste of Artisan

The best smoker for smoking sausages is the one that can maintain low enough temperature. A lot of people successfully use electric smokers, like the very popular Masterbuilt Electric Digital Smoker which some consider to be the best value for home sausage making. I do a lot of low heat and high heat smoking, so I try to compromise and use a propane smoker, also made by Masterbuilt. It’s not that easy to maintain low temperatures with, but if I time my sausage smoking properly and do it on days with lower ambient temperatures it works just fine.

Update on June 30, 2016

If you have a propane smoker and have trouble maintaining low enough temperature for smoking sausages, you will need to install a needle valve. Or you can buy a pre-made assembly that comes with the needle valve already installed, like the Bayou Classic M5HPR-1 10 PSI Hose, Regulator, Valve Assembly. Before you buy, make sure the assembly is compatible with the burner in your smoker. Read more about this modification here: Needle Valve for Gassers.

When I smoke Swojska even at temperatures not exceeding 170-175F I sometimes see some fat inevitably melting. When you cut into the sausage while it’s still hot, you will see some hollow areas, and juices/melted fat running off.

Making authentic Polish kielbasa (sausage) at home. Sliced hot.| Taste of Artisan

Chilling the sausage

Let the sausage cool down, then put in the fridge overnight. Once it is properly chilled, the fat will solidify again and there will be no hollow areas.

You may or may not want to chill your sausage quickly in an ice water bath. If you do that, supposedly it will prevent wrinkling and will make the sausage full and plump. This will make the sausage lose some color but it’s not bad as I initially thought. I now finish cooking my kielbasa by poaching then give it a cold shower to cool off quickly.

Update on November 23, 2019

My kielbasa recipe has not changed, this is still the best tasting kielbasa for me and family, and I’ve tried dozens of new very good recipes. What changed is I’ve finally built my dream smokehouse, and I’ve been smoking sausages in it like there is no tomorrow. Check out the garlic sausage, beef sticks, Krakowska kielbasa, Lisiecka kielbasa, Andouille sausage and  the traditional Polish kabanos sausage that I made in it. This thing is a beast and performs just like I wanted.

Smokehouse with smoke coming out of chimney.

Another thing that has changed is how I now finish cooking my kielbasa. Finishing in the smoker is long and tedious. It may take hours to get kielbasa to 154F internal temperature. By the way, I changed the target internal temperature from 152F to 154F, seeing how many traditional Polish kielbasa recipes use it. I resisted the poaching method for as long as I could. Then I gave up and finally tried it. I am glad I did as I loved it. That’s what I do for most of my smoked sausages now.

I use a 36-qt stainless stock pot with a basket. It’s as effective and convenient for sausage making as it is for crawfish boils, which our family loves. It easily fits 10 lbs of sausage. The water is heated up to 167F. It takes about 20-30 minutes for 10 lbs of sausage to reach 154F internal temperature. I normally don’t have to heat the water during poaching, the burner is off all the time.

Kielbasa poaching in a pot of warm water.

The basket makes removing kielbasa, moving it around and giving it a cold shower a breeze.

Smoked kielbasa in a basket after poaching.

I don’t feel like the sausage is not smoky enough or doesn’t have sufficient color. It smells, looks and tastes just as good, but this makes my job so much easier.

Sliced kielbasa with sourdough bread and vegetables.

Last but not least, in colder months I dry my smoked kielbasa at around 38F-55F in my unheated veranda.

Dried smoked kielbasa on a smoke stick.

Ideal drying conditions are 52F – 58F and 75% RH. Dried kielbasa has a longer shelf life, and has a richer taste and color.

Sliced smoked kielbasa.

The kielbasa on the picture above has a finer grind, I used a 4.5mm plate to grind the meat.

Making authentic Polish kielbasa (sausage) at home. Sliced hot.| Taste of Artisan

Homemade Swojska Polish Kielbasa

A recipe for one of the best homemade Polish kielbasa.
4.86 from 14 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: dinner, lunch, Snack
Cuisine: Polish
Keyword: kielbasa, Polish kielbasa, Polish smoked sausage recipe, smoked kielbasa
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Drying: 3 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8 sausages
Calories: 735kcal
Author: Victor

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 lbs pork butt about 2,000 g
  • 1 lb beef chuck about 450 g
  • 1 lb pork belly about 450 g; or back fat
  • 3 garlic cloves about 10 g; large, pressed
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram about 1.2 g
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper about 4.5 g
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt about 36 g; plus more to taste, if needed
  • 1 1/3 tsp Cure #1 about 6.5 g; see notes
  • 1 cup ice water about 240 g

Instructions

  • Grind pork, beef and pork belly/back fat on a medium size plate, 4.5mm (3/16") - 6mm (1/4").
  • Add the ice water, all of the spices and mix well.
  • Stuff into small size hog casings (28-32mm), tie into rings and hang to dry at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
  • Preheat smoker to 140F, or 150F-160F max if your smoker can't get that low.
  • Hang sausages in the smoker and dry for 30-60 minutes, until the skin is dry to touch. Then apply smoke for 3-4 hours.
  • Remove sausages once the internal temperature has reached 154F. If the internal temperature is not rising too well after 3-4 hours of smoking, raise the temperature to 170F-175F.  You may have to go to 195F if necessary.
    Alternatively, poach the sausages in 167F water for 25 - 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 154F. Poaching is a much quicker and more effective method.
  • Cool the sausage down and store in a refrigerator or a freezer.
    Cooling can be achieved by placing sausage in an ice bath to cool it down quickly. It with result in a fuller, more plump product.
    Alternatively, you may let the sausage cool down at room temperature and then refrigerate. This will result in the sausage less plump and slightly wrinkled, but this this is my preferred method. Ice water bath removes smoke residue from surface making the sausage less smoky in flavor and pale in color.
    A reader suggested another effective cooling technique - placing the sausage flat on a cool surface, like a counter top. 

Notes

Cure #1, also called pink salt #1 or Prague Powder is available from local sausage supply stores or online, for example here: Hoosier Hill Farm Prague Powder Curing Salt. Make sure it is Cure #1, not #2. Cure #2 is used for making dry cured meats and sausages, like salami, sopressata and similar.

Nutrition

Calories: 735kcal | Carbohydrates: 0g | Protein: 64g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 233mg | Sodium: 1975mg | Potassium: 1169mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 0g | Vitamin A: 20IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 4.7mg

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Leave a Comment

 

102 comments

Beverly January 24, 2020 - 8:04 pm

how can I buy your kielbasa?

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan January 25, 2020 - 4:08 pm

Beverly, for me to be able to sell smoked sausage I’d need a food license and a permit to use my backyard for commercial cooking, which won’t be allowed, sadly.

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Jean-Luc Desselle January 16, 2020 - 8:37 pm

Do you have the plans for that smoke house? It looks amazing! It is just a hollow structure for the smoke to come through the top form the bottom via that Green Egg?

I would love to build this.

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan January 17, 2020 - 2:48 pm

Hi,

I didn’t follow or document a detailed design for this smokehouse. I started off with a general idea of how smokehouses operate taken from Marianski’s Smokehouse Design book. Except for the firepit I wanted to use a BGE seeing how my large BGE can provide very nice smelling smoke for hours without tending. Plus I wanted the smokehouse to be highly portable. It kind of worked, but I wasn’t getting enough heat with my original design with the egg on the side. I had to redesign it a few times before it started to work and ended up with 26″ x 28″ x 37″ (depth/width/height) inside dimensions, and 31″ x 34″ x 41″ outside dimensions for the main smoking chamber. Add 25″ for the legs and 19″ for the roof. To get enough heat I have to run it at about 600F-650F inside the egg measured at the dome, and have the egg right underneath to avoid significant heat loss. The allows for good 3 hours of smoking before having to add more charcoal. I do have to drop a wood chunk down the chute every 15-20 minutes though as the wood burns out pretty quickly at 600F.
>
The most important things are:
1. Insulate
2. Keep the egg underneath (be careful there, you want some kind of barrier between the hot chimney and the wood of the smokehouse).
>
I provided enough details on the Egghead Forum to get you started. Check them out, especially on page 2 of the discussion. If you have questions, let me know.
https://eggheadforum.com/discussion/1221799/my-smokehouse-laid-a-green-egg

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Paul January 5, 2020 - 7:41 am

When drying in the colder months how long and when do you hang the sausage to dry cure

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan January 5, 2020 - 5:55 pm

Paul, since this is a fully cooked sausage, it will be drying, not curing. I have an unheated, fully enclosed veranda on the back of my house. When temperatures outside hover around 38F-60F it’s a good place for drying sausages like this kielbasa. I also slightly open one window to have some air movement there. It works great. Drying time varies on the ambient temperature and humidity but generally takes about 5-7 days. It can take longer if the temperatures are colder than 50F, about 10-12 days. If I had a garage, I would likely use it for drying. Keep an eye on ambient temps, you don’t want the sausage to freeze or warm up above 60F. Other than that, I use my curing chamber.

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Paul January 18, 2020 - 3:17 am

Exactly what I plan to do use my curing chamber

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John Karas December 31, 2019 - 2:38 pm

also how to save unused fresh hog casing for the future use. tks.

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan January 1, 2020 - 11:40 pm

I put mine in a closed container with a lot of salt. Lasts for months in a fridge.

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John Karas December 31, 2019 - 2:36 pm

can you break down the salt and cure to teaspoons or tablespoons. thank you

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan January 1, 2020 - 11:38 pm

Done, John. Hope this helps. In general, I recommend using a scale and measure ingredients in grams for precision. Even kosher salt comes in fine, normal or coarse grind. One teaspoon of fine salt will weigh about 25% more than the coarse one. Then there is the variability from teaspoon to teaspoon. One time you get 5 g worth of salt, another 5.5 grams. It may not seem like a lot but it may make a big difference in taste. Those variances can add up.

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John Karas January 2, 2020 - 4:01 pm

thanks , very helpful

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan January 2, 2020 - 7:33 pm

You are very welcome.

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John Karas December 30, 2019 - 1:06 am

What is the recipe for 25 lbs of meat.

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan December 30, 2019 - 3:30 am

140g salt, 25g Cure #1, 4 cups water, garlic/pepper/marjoram x4.

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Ken December 24, 2019 - 5:06 pm

I’m considering using alder on my first attempt at this recipe (and first run of my new smoker). The reason for this is that my wife prefers her smoked food a little on the light side. Do you think that alder is a mistake? Will alder make it taste weird? I do have some cherry I can use as well.

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan December 24, 2019 - 9:22 pm

Ken, congratulations on your new smoker! It’s always fun to play with a new toy.
>
Alder can be a good choice if that’s the flavor profile you are shooting for. One of my favorite smoked kielbasas,kielbasa Lisiecka, is traditionally smoked with beechwood and alder. Alder is very mild as you said. It’s best suited for poultry and fish though.
>
Cherry is considered mild. I have yet to meet a person who didn’t like it. One of my favorite woods to smoke with. It has a pleasant sweetness and adds a beautiful maroon-ish color.
>
That said, I find that the choice of wood is a very personal preference. And your preferences change as you experiment and experience new flavors. I used to prefer cherry wood, still do for many things, but lately, I’ve been smoking with hickory a lot. I love its strong smoky flavor. Oak is considered best all-around wood for smoking. It’s strong but not overpowering. I like it for some smoked sausages. Pecan is a good wood for a milder smoky flavor as well, it’s like a mild version of hickory.
>
I guess everything I said above wasn’t really helpful in helping you make the decision. So let me try to do that – go with cherry. Also, remember that smokiness is not only a function of the wood used but also a function of the thickness of the smoke and the time. The longer you smoke, the thicker the smoke is – the smokier the sausage will be and vice versa.

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Ken December 18, 2019 - 7:13 pm

Any reason that I shouldn’t dissolve the salt and cure in the ice water prior to adding it to the other ingredients?

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan December 18, 2019 - 8:20 pm

Ken, you can do that, no problem at all.

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Dave December 6, 2019 - 1:16 am

Hello, wondering if I could use lean moose meat and pork fat? What sort of ratio would be best. Thank you

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan December 6, 2019 - 1:45 pm

Hello Dave, you can use lean moose meat with pork fat or pork trimmings using 60/30 and 60/40 ratios respectively. This is what is typically recommended. The grind for lean game meat can be as big as 10mm or as low as 3-4.5mm. I would go lower as wild gamer meat is tougher than beef or pork. The smoking process is the same except wild game sausages are typically required to be cooked to 160F internal.

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Tony November 28, 2019 - 11:45 pm

Victor great recipe
How long do you keep it in the smoker before you poach it?
With my first batch was in the smoker all day and night and still not reach 154 internal temperature even after I increased the temp to 190. Ended up poaching it and was awesome
Thank you
Tony

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan November 29, 2019 - 2:12 am

Thanks, Tony. I hear you, that’s the reason I switched to poaching as I was getting tired of the long and tedious ‘baking’ times. Sometimes it works, usually when outside temps are high and the smoker is lightly loaded, like was the case with Andouille sausage I wrote about. It took only 40 minutes to reach the target temperature. Anyway, for this thickness (28-32mm) 2 hours should be enough but you can go up to 4 hours without a problem. It also depends on the wood and the thickness of the smoke. The stronger the smell, the thicker the smoke – the less time in the smoker.

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Ken November 25, 2019 - 6:31 pm

Ok, so now that you’re poaching your kielbasa, to what extent are you keeping it in the smoker?

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan November 25, 2019 - 7:30 pm

Ken, the smoking time hasn’t changed. 3-4 hours is what I feel is optimal for my taste. That may vary depending on what wood you use. Say, cherry or hickory will give you a good smoky flavor and color during that time, but I feel something like, say, pecan needs more time to achieve the same smoky flavor, more like 6-8 hours.

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Jerry November 14, 2019 - 12:03 am

This is third batch using this recipe, I live in Pacific Northwest have allot of friends that smoke fish and elk,venison everyone loves it,no changing a thing

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan November 14, 2019 - 12:07 am

Glad to hear it, Jerry. Family and friends love it here too. Lot’s of requests came in, I am smoking a big batch this weekend in my new smokehouse. Will post pictures.

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan November 23, 2019 - 6:44 pm

More pictures posted. I dried it too, delicious!

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Lorne November 4, 2019 - 9:47 pm

Do you not need a binder of some sort or does it just bind itself

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan November 4, 2019 - 9:52 pm

No binder. The meat will become sticky during mixing.

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Joseph October 23, 2019 - 8:55 pm

hi again she ,,how about a potato sausage ,my mom made that quite often around easter ,dat was a long time ago ,,,I have asked another sausage maker an they said have not ever tried that ,, lets make it Again thank you so much for such a quick answer. !! Joseph

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan October 23, 2019 - 10:32 pm

My grandmother use to make it. I don’t have a recipe but this one looks very similar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq-DFEivAgw

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Joseph October 23, 2019 - 4:52 pm

hi ,can I use this recipe for fresh kielbasa mom always made fresh , during the 40s 50s , she also added mustard seed ,,

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan October 23, 2019 - 5:11 pm

Yes you can. Substitute pink salt for regular salt, stuff and fry on a pan.

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Joseph October 23, 2019 - 5:59 pm

no frying just simmered in h2o ,then serve wit horseradish n yellow mustard boiled potato , and kaput , thank you for such a quick response ,,,dis old man was an associate of James Beard ,,,da ya know who dat was ,,,Friends called him Jimmy ,,,,, I will be making sausage soon as I get a stuffer not sure which one ,,,will look on Amazon in a few minutes ,,,cause I love Italian with fennel seed all the store kinds use powder fennel NOT that makes it permeate all the meat so no fennel bite ,that would be like using powered caraway in rye bread ,check out a book Taste of LITHUANIA,,beautiful hard cover by Beata Nicolson ,you love it Im sure ,,,,!!! ,Your new associate chef Joseph

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan October 23, 2019 - 8:34 pm

Poaching will do too. Or air frying, my new favorite. Fennel is one of my favorite ingredients. That and fennel pollen. Use them all the time especially for cured sausages.

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Brett Martin October 22, 2019 - 1:35 pm

I have made this recipe twice now. I have made my own personal seasoning changes, but I love it. I do have some friends say that it is to greasy. When I buy the pork to put in, I buy boston butt and I include the fat strip that comes on it. Should I cut that part off and only use the pork part, since you are adding 1lb of pork belly? Just curious on your thoughts.

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan October 22, 2019 - 2:48 pm

Hi Brett, it sounds like that extra fat from the fat cap may be the culprit. I normally trim most of the fat off from the pork butt and go for about 20% – 25% total fat content. It’s perfect for my taste. Now, to satisfy your lean sausage loving friends, make them Lisiecka kielbasa or Krakowska. Those are as lean as kilebasas get. I just posted both recipes on my blog. I highly recommend Lisiecka kielbasa.

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Derrickthedesigner August 25, 2019 - 11:26 pm

Easy peasy! Forgot to let it sit for 2-3 hours right after I put it in the casing(tough time…air kept getting into casing/stuffing was a chore)…I need more experience doing it with the KitchenAid grinding attachment and sausage stuffer!!

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Stan July 25, 2019 - 1:56 pm

Great recipe. Will follow shortly.

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Ken February 14, 2019 - 5:40 pm

Can the kielbasa be laid upon the smoker rack, as opposed to being hung?

What’s the trick to getting consistent lengths of stuffed links? I usually stuff a length of casing until it’s completely filled and end up with all sorts of lengths. Do I have to bite the bullet and just call it quits after a certain amount is filled, regardless of how much unused casing is left over on the stuffer tube?

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Victor February 14, 2019 - 6:43 pm

Hey Ken, it sure can, check out my post on making summer sausage, I have some pictures there. I’ve made kielbasa like that too on my BGE.

The length, I have a crazy way of stuffing where my wife is operating the stuffer while I control stuffing flow with my left hand and extending the other end of the sausage until it almost reaches the fridge with my right hand. This gives me the same length for all links, except the last one of course. I also like this method because I can have some unfilled casing on each end for tying.

The unused casings, yeah, I throw mine out unless I am making more in the next few days. After a while you learn how much you need per pound of meat. Using regular 28-32mm hog casings, I need about 2 feet per pound of meat. Then add some for tying, for breakages. I usually end up with a couple of feet of unused casings, maybe 3, that get thrown out.

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vic styn December 21, 2018 - 9:48 pm

Do I eat this sausage cold, or should heat the sausage up. Hopefully, not by a microwave. I want to make this sausage for Christmas night snack.

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victor December 22, 2018 - 5:51 am

It’s fully cooked so you can eat it cold. My wife likes to warm it up and that’s totally fine too. My personal favorite – dry it for a week at about 55F and 75Rh then store in the fridge. Dried, it will store quite a bit longer and the flavors are richer.

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Bob November 20, 2018 - 3:14 pm

Your recipe is quite close to what My Mom used to make.
I have never used cure before. Is it necessary?=

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victor November 20, 2018 - 6:52 pm

If you don’t want to get people sick – yes. The cure also enhances the flavor and gives the sausage a nice, pink color.

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mjb October 21, 2018 - 5:27 am

Hi Victor, and congratulations! Finally, someone writes sensibly about how to make some real good(and true) polish sausage.
A pleasure to read, one can tell you have done it a few times.
Now, as to the chilling of the finished product… You write:
“I just cool my sausages by hanging them in a cool place for a few hours and then refrigerate”. I agree, it is a bettter choice than an ice water bath, however…
However, an even smarter way to go about it would be to take your still hot sausages to a cool place all right, but not to hang them. Instead, place them flat(even pile them up) on some surface till they cool off. It is supposed to facilitate an even distribution of still liquid fats in the sausage rings.
I have read about this practice just recently on some “seriously sausage” polish blog, and decided this insight needed to be shared with you and your readers.
Cheers!

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victor October 22, 2018 - 7:58 am

That’s an interesting technique, thank you for sharing. Not sure about piling up, but if you spread the kielbasas flat on a table, especially a cold table they should cool pretty quickly. I will try that.

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Myles Bruckal October 1, 2018 - 10:45 pm

The pictures of your Kielbasa have large chunks of meat like we used to get many years ago. But our attempts and most modern sausages seem to be ground finely. How can we get the texture in your pictures?

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victor October 1, 2018 - 11:02 pm

Hi Miles, I responded to your previous comment earlier today with some suggestions. They should help you get the texture like on the pictures.

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myles October 1, 2018 - 1:00 am

We followed your steps and used the medium size grinder plate. But when we cut into ours it looks more minced than the pictures on your site. Any suggestions?

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victor October 1, 2018 - 9:12 am

That can be caused by fat smearing. If the meat/fat is not cold enough, the fat will smear during grinding making it look like what you describe. Are the cutting knife / plate sharp? If not, they can also cause that, happened to me. The meat will be more minced than cleanly cut during grinding. Finally, what size is your medium plate, is it 3/16″ / 4.5mm? Just want to make sure we are talking about the same thing here.

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Barbara Mullinix September 28, 2018 - 9:51 am

I have just eaten Polish sausage from a local butcher that does not resemble what my Polish grandmother made, so I am thinking of making my own. Your recipe says to grind with a medium plate, but the grinder you recommend seems to come with only fine and course plates. Did you purchase an extra plate?

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victor September 28, 2018 - 12:17 pm

It’s all relative. Yes, my grinder came with two grinder plates – 3/8″ (10mm) and 3/16″ (4.5mm). 3/16″ (4.5mm) to 1/4″ (6mm) is what I consider medium and it’s a perfect size for this kielbasa. The reason I think of it as medium is because grinder plates – Lem and other brands – come in a variety of sizes ranging from 1/8″ (3mm) to 1/2″ (12mm) and even larger, so those two are in the middle/close to middle.

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Adelaide Bulinski September 14, 2018 - 5:49 pm

Lovely just what I was looking for.

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Judy September 10, 2018 - 5:48 pm

Absolutely the best authentic Ukrainian flavor I was searching for! Bless you for blogging!!

Now, I need to ask if you have any suggestions for a cure that does not contain red dye or dyes of any form. I would love to share this recipe with the rest of my brothers and sisters, but many have allergies to red dyes. Oh great sausage maker, any ideas??? Thank you a thousand times!

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victor September 10, 2018 - 7:12 pm

Oh, thank you for the kind words. Glad you liked the recipe. Now, to answer your important question – I would recommend celery powder, I’ve never used it but I don’t believe it contains any artificial coloring. Here is the link: https://www.butcherspantry.com/curing-ingredients/veg-stable-504-celery-powder. I’ve ordered a number of times from this site and can recommend it.

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Danielle August 23, 2018 - 2:43 pm

Can you freeze the kielbasa after it has been cooled? We make our own saussages each year when we butcher. Usually about 200 lbs. We are looking to add more variety. We already make venison, pork, country, Italian and hot Italian. We utilize foir upright freezers to hold all of our meats, so i hope it can be frozen.

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victor September 2, 2018 - 7:41 pm

Hi Danielle,

I’ve frozen many smoked and cured sausages/salami in the past. I can tell you that some sausages fare better than others but none taste as good as freshly made. The best ones would be 80-90% of the fresh taste-wise, so all is not that bad. If you can get accept that, then you can freeze kielbasa. I find that the more fat kielbasa has the better it freezes. Also, the drier it is the better it freezes. Once you’ve smoked your kielbasa, let it hang in a cool room, like your basement, ideally at about 60-65F and 70-75% humidity, for 3-5 days and dry. Then vacuum seal (to prevent freezer burn) and freeze. To defrost, put in a fridge for 2-3 days. It will taste very good.

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Steve Denvir June 26, 2018 - 6:13 pm

Hey Victor, I’m here to bother you again :-). I see you recommend the Amazen pellet smoker. I’ve noticed that I have a very hard time generating smoke at low temperatures in my smoker.

Will this device fix that?

Because at the moment, I’m cranking up the heat with the door open, then once I get some smoke started, I close the door. But the interior of the smoker is still hotter than it should be, and I have to go through the same routine in 10 minutes.

Can the pellet smoker actually generate smoke at 110-120?

As always, thanks in advance

Steve

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victor June 28, 2018 - 11:35 am

Hi Steve, it’s not a bother at all. A pellet smoker works fine for me. Once it gets going it does a pretty good job. I can’t say that the smoke is perfect, it’s more of a white smoke than the nice thin blue that we all seek so desperately, but it works.

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Steve Denvir April 29, 2018 - 4:49 pm

Victor, just made kielbasa for the first time using your recipe, and it was fabulous. And I have very high standards ;-). A number of years ago, I went to every Polish butcher shop on Roncesvalle and purchased some of their Village Kielbasa. We did a complete taste test, and the consensus was that the best Kielbasa came from Super Kolbossa. Sadly, they closed at the end of 2017.

Which prompted me to try my own hand at making it.

Well, yours is right up there with the best we tasted.

One question. The skin is a little tougher than I’d like. I ran out of time yesterday, and put the raw sausage in the fridge overnight. Is it possible that the casing became too dry?

But that’s a minor complaint. I’ll be proudly showing this batch off to friends nd family over the next few weeks.

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victor April 29, 2018 - 6:53 pm

Glad to hear that, Steve. You know, I get a hard skin myself every now and again and don’t really know what exactly causes it. Perhaps too long of a cook at higher temps? But the skins does tend to soften up after a day in a fridge.

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Randy April 4, 2018 - 12:48 pm

Found your site after much searching for kielbasa recipes. Your recipe sounded like the one I wanted to try. It was fantastic to say the least. Followed your recipe exactly and it was wonderful. Cherry wood is a key. Next time I think I may increase the garlic by about 50% as we enjoy it very much. I had a Polish friend try it and she told me that it was the best kielbasa she ever tasted!
Thanks

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victor April 4, 2018 - 12:52 pm

Thanks for taking the time to comment and for the kind words, Randy. It’s much appreciated.

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Mark Zaczkiewicz November 2, 2017 - 12:25 am

Hey Victor, great site, lots of info can’t wait to get started. I enjoy the sticks of smoked Kielbasa over the typical thick style you would serve as a meal or with sauerkraut. They are about the thickness of your thumb, always wrinkly and dried. Will this recipe work the same way with Smaller casings? Should I finish inside a dehydrator for a short time? I like the snap of the sticks.

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victor November 2, 2017 - 1:12 pm

Mark, this recipe should be fine with thinner casings, you may just need to add some more water. I don’t use a dehydrator so hard to say, but I like drier sausages myself and what I do is hang them in the cool basement or my curing chamber at about 60F/75%RH for about 4-5 days. They are perfectly dry after that.

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Bob October 30, 2017 - 10:16 am

Made this Saturday, I was the best kielbasa i have ever had!!

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victor October 30, 2017 - 10:22 am

Awesome! Glad you liked it. Thanks for the feedback.

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Lori Roberts September 24, 2017 - 2:42 pm

THANK YOU FOR YOUR RECIPE!!! I made it and it is the BEST smoked Polish sausage ever!!! made 10 lbs of it. i did let the mixture “rest” for 3 days before i filled my casings and smoked it. Just the BEST EVER!!!!! I will always use this and have recommended it to many others in groups that i belong to. if you go to my FB page you can find a pic of it. Along with credit to your blog.

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victor September 25, 2017 - 8:29 am

Thank so much for the kind words and for posting your feedback on the recipe. Please come back again and check for new recipes – I’ve been working on a design for a smokehouse and I am very close to putting it together. I have a quite a few new really good smoked sausage recipes that I will be posting on my blog.

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Larry Childs May 1, 2017 - 11:54 am

32 mm. I’ll give it a try. We live on an island without major grocery stores. The butcher couldn’t provide pork belly. Can I use ubncured bavon? Sorry for all the questions.

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victor May 1, 2017 - 12:12 pm

You should be totally fine with inserting a probe into a 32mm hog casing. You may be thinking inserting perpendicular to to the surface. No, that won’t work, you are correct. But if you stick the probe into a bend at the top and then slide it inside and down the sausage along the center, it will work great.

Uncured bacon will work great. I like that idea a lot, actually.

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Larry Childs April 30, 2017 - 9:25 pm

Thanks Victor. Now a little trickier question. I have a Bradley smoker and it does quite a good job at maintaining temperatures. The sausages appear too small to insert a probe to determine the internal temp of 152. How do you check this?

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victor May 1, 2017 - 11:07 am

Hm, I never had that problem. 28-32mm casings are thick enough for a probe. What casing size are you using?

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Larry Childs April 29, 2017 - 7:26 pm

When converting 36 grams of kosher salt to tablespoons I come up with 15 tablespoons. Is this correct?

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victor April 29, 2017 - 7:46 pm

Larry, the conversion is way off. 1 heaping tsp is 6g, I measured that at one time. One level tsp is 5g. 36g will be 6 heaping teaspoons. 1 Tbsp is usually 3 tsp, so 36g will be 2 heaping tablespoons or so.

That said, when making sausage, it pays to weigh your ingredients. If you are measuring say 96 grams of salt by tsp/Tbsp and are off by a 1/3-1 gram each spoon, it will really add up and make a noticeable difference to taste.

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Erica February 17, 2017 - 11:38 am

This recipe is utter perfection!

Super simple to follow and the taste pleased even those picky foodie types! I’ll be keeping this close and is going to become a regular in my household!

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Russ Ohlin November 28, 2016 - 7:08 pm

Victor, I purchased my propane smoker earlier this year and found your recipe which most closely resembled the keilbasa I remembered eating as a child. I had been wanting to make my own keilbasa for quite a while, but I wanted it to be authentic. Your recipe is spot on! I did a little over 27 # and smoked using some mesquite and mostly apple chips. My method for stuffing casings is a bit different. I have a Kitchenaid with the grinder and sausage tube attachment. I first cube all of the meat and then add seasonings and water. I then used a large grinder plate (when making regular sausage, I generally use the smaller plate), grinding and stuffing all in the same operation. I have to use a special made spacer behind the tube to keep the plate tight against the knife. It works quite well and saves a step. These will be going out as Christmas gifts. The family can hardly wait. Thanks again for a great recipe. I wish I could share a picture.

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victor November 28, 2016 - 7:21 pm

Thank you for your comment Russ. Glad you liked my recipe. You can email me your picture and I can attach it to your comment.

Added your picture. Your kielbasa looks amazing. I am salivating. By the way, I have a couple more really good kielbasa recipes I’ve been working on, will be doing a lot of smoking closer to Christmas and will be posting my recipes.

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Russ Ohlin November 29, 2016 - 10:37 pm

I’ll be on the lookout. Second time should be easier than the first, and if there’s another recipe to try, I’ll be glad to give it a shot.

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Chad October 20, 2016 - 4:29 pm

I will be making it this weekend. 1 question, is it 4lbs 4 ounces or is it 4 lbs 6.4 ounces (4.4lbs) of pork. I am really looking forward to this and I will let you know.

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victor October 20, 2016 - 4:40 pm

That would be 4 lbs 6.4 ounces. Good luck. I am sure it will turn out awesome.

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Beata August 29, 2018 - 11:39 pm

Now I’m confused 🙁 how many kg is 4.4lbs? I understand the 4lbs but 6.4 oz is a little over half a pound? Total should be about 4 and half pounds? Thank you!

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victor September 2, 2018 - 9:10 pm

Beata, 1 kg equals 2.2 lbs. 4.4 lbs is 2 kilos exactly.

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Beata September 2, 2018 - 10:12 pm

I made this couple days ago. My husband is polish and he couldn’t believe that the sausage tasted better than the one from the store. We served it at a party with polish people, they were blown away! Thank you so much!

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Marcin October 2, 2016 - 9:59 am

This is a fantastic recipe that delivers results time and time again.
We have always stuck with the quantities and paid special attention to the addition of the fat/belly by cubing previously frozen fat and adding them just prior to grinding.
We smoke it using maple and generate heat through charcoal (not briquette type). We use an old coke dispensing unit (6 by 2.5 feet) lined with stainless steel as our smoker.
This past weekend we made our sixth batch since last November.
Thank you Victor!

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victor October 2, 2016 - 10:13 am

Wow! That’s fantastic, Marcin. Glad you like this recipe as much as I do, my favorite.

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Lukasz D April 16, 2016 - 1:04 pm

Hi I read that if you are using Morton Tender Quick (which is what I have) then you don’t need to add additional salt since the tender is really salty itself. Do you know this to be true or should I still add the amount of salt like you recommended?

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victor April 16, 2016 - 1:50 pm

Lukasz, yes, that’s true. The amount of salt that Morton adds per specified amount of sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate is higher than in Cure #1. How much higher I don’t know as I don’t use that product. I would google for conversion formulas and see what others have to say.

If I were in your shoes, I would start with just Tender Quick using the amount they recommend per pound of meat, mix, fry a little piece and evaluate. Then add more salt if needed. A little laborious, but this is the surest way. Make sure to measure and write down the final salt ratio so you don’t have to do it next time.

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Lukasz D April 18, 2016 - 2:46 pm

Ok great. I will probably switch to cure #1 as you suggested since it just seems easier. One other question, the tender quick instructions say to rinse the meat after curing. But since I will be smoking the kielbasa does that make sense? Should I rinse off the tender quick prior to stuffing? Or will that kill the flavor? Thank you so much.

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victor April 18, 2016 - 3:22 pm

Lukasz, you typically rinse the meat after dry or wet brining, say when you make capicola, ham or bacon. You do that because the amount of salt and cure #1 (or 2, depending on what you are making) is much higher than what you would use for making smoked sausages. It is expected that sufficient amount of salt and cure will be absorbed during brining process (can be up to 2-3 weeks), and the excess will be rinsed off.

To answer your question, no it does not make sense, but then again, I have not used the product. Technically, it would make sense if you cure the meat in a heavily salted brine with enough Nitrite so the meat absorbs enough. Then you rinse the meat, grind, add the spices and stuff. This way your flavors will be fine. But this is a hard question to answer for me as have never used that product.

I say definitely switch to Cure #1 as TQ seems like a pain in the back to use.

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Joanne McTiernan March 25, 2016 - 11:52 pm

What is Cure #1? Thanks

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victor March 26, 2016 - 5:54 am

Joanne, take a look at the second comment from the top. It’s a curing salt that helps prevent growth of pathogenic bacteria and gives the sausage it’s nice pink color.

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Lori Roberts February 8, 2016 - 6:45 pm

I am used to buying our smoked sausage and being able to eat it without cooking it. Once i make your recipe does this sausage still have to be “cooked” before we eat it? Thank you so much for your time and trouble!

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victor February 9, 2016 - 12:30 am

Once you make it based on this recipe, it will be ready to eat. No additional cooking is needed. You can then refrigerate it and eat cold, or fry it with eggs, potatoes or whatever you like. It will be great either way.

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Lori Roberts February 13, 2016 - 8:41 pm

thanks Victor! I am going on vacation in a week and making all kinds of sausages and this is one that i will be doing!!!!

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victor February 13, 2016 - 8:48 pm

All the best, Lori! In old days semi-dry sausages like this one were dried in cool cellars at 55F and 75%RH for a few days to lose additional moisture. That helped them stay fresh for months without refrigeration. If you are taking them on vacation where there will be periods of time when you don’t have a fridge around, hang the sausages to dry for a few days.

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Teresa September 21, 2015 - 3:52 am

What kind of wood do you use for smoking the sausage?

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victor September 21, 2015 - 7:05 am

My favorite is cherry wood. If I can find it I use sweet cherry wood. I like the sweetness in the smoke and the deep red color that they give. Pecan is a close second but not quite the same.

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dodie August 27, 2015 - 3:19 pm

I would love to make this but i have no idea, what is cure #1?
Thank you

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victor August 27, 2015 - 4:18 pm

Hi dodie,

Cure #1, also known as pink salt or saltpeter, is a curing salt consisting of salt and sodium nitrite. Since kielbasa is slow smoked for many hours to get that wonderful smoky flavor there is risk of growth of botulism-causing bacteria. Pink salt prevents that. It also inhibits spoilage, and gives the sausage that nice pink color, which otherwise would have been grey.

Now, you can hot smoke kielbasa over higher heat, say 225F to 250F, in which case it will get cooked within 3 hours an botulism is not a concern. In this case pink salt is not required, but you will get a different taste and melted fat. You will need to cook it to at least 165F internal temperature, too. Not the same, but still pretty tasty.

I buy pink salt from the sausagemaker.com, but there are many other places too. Many grocery stores carry either pink salt (ask at the meat counter), or Morton Tender Quick (pretty much the same thing, just make sure to follow directions on the package for the ratio per pound of meat). Morton Tender Quick is usually in the same place where they have table salt and such. I know Wegmans carries it, if you have it near where you live.

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