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Krakow Sausage (Kielbasa Krakowska Krajana)

by Victor @ Taste of Artisan

There is absolutely nothing like the original Krakow sausage (kielbasa Krakowska). It comes as no surprise that this sausage has always been the top seller in Poland. It’s the queen of kielbasas. It takes its name after the city in which it originated, the city of Krakow, one of the oldest cities in Europe.

Krakow sausage slices on a cutting board.

This recipe is for Kielbasa Krakowska Krajana. Krajana translates from Polish as ‘cut in pieces’. In the context of Krakow sausage it means that the sausage is made of meat chunks that were never ground. Mostly. Ten percent of (slightly fattier) meat is emulsified to fill the gaps between and hold together large chunks of meat.

Mixed meat inside a bowl, ready to be stuffed to make Krakow sausage.

The original recipe for this sausage calls for 90% of lean class I pork and 10% of fairly lean (no more than 25% fat) class III pork. Krakowska is as lean as any sausage can get. Smoky and aromatic, this sausage reminds me of well-made old-fashioned smoked ham. Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite sausages to make and eat.

About this recipe

This recipe originates from the official guide to meat products that was first published in Poland 1959, categorizing 46 sausages and 13 liver and blood sausages. In the update published in 1964 the number of sausages increased to 119. It also included 10 liver and blood sausages as well as 11 pates and meat loaves. You can find production guidelines for this sausage in official publications online and books, such as Marianski’s Polish Sausages, Authentic Recipes And Instructions.

While I invite innovation and experimentation, I am fascinated by authentic and original recipes and always try to experience them first before trying modified versions. We are fortunate that these recipes were openly published for everyone to enjoy. Today’s commercially produced sausages oftentimes are a far cry from what they used to taste or were intended to taste.

Making Krakow sausage

Making Krakow sausage is fairly easy with the right tools on hand. The meat is first cut in pieces and cured for 2 days. A small amount of fattier pieces is then emulsified. Both meats and the spices are combined and stuffed in large synthetic casings. The sausages are then dried, smoked and baked to get them to the specified internal temperature.

Emulsifying meat

Emulsifying class III pork can be done in a bowl cutter or a good food processor. Bowl cutters are very expensive and probably are an overkill for any home sausage maker. I find that I get a decent emulsification in my commercial grade food processor. Perhaps not quite as uniformly fine as you would get from a bowl cutter but perfectly adequate. That said, I never felt like it was an issue for the texture or taste of any of the emulsified sausages I’ve made (e.g. bockwurst). Only a close visual inspection will give that away.

Class III pork needs to be pre-ground before emulsifying so a meat grinder with a 1/8″ (3mm) grinder plate would be of great help. That said, you can get away without one. Simply chop the meat very finely with a large chef knife or a cleaver before emulsifying.

Emulsified meat inside Robot Coupe food processor.

Stuffing

Stuffing 2-inch chunks of meat through a sausage stuffer won’t work so you will need to do it manually. The good news is that the original Krakow sausage requires 3″ (75mm) fibrous casings that you can easily stuff manually using a jar funnel.

Stuffing krakow sausages using a stainless steel funnel.

Drying

Drying takes place at room temperature in a drafty area for a few hours, then in a smoker at around 115F – 130F for 20-30 minutes or until the surface is dry. It may take longer than 30 minutes and it’s fine.

There is no smoke during drying. You can also dry the sausages in a fridge overnight, uncovered. This will remove some moisture but you will still need to finish drying in the smoker.

Krakow sausage hanging inside smokehouse, ready for smoking.

Smoking

The guidelines recommend smoking with a thick smoke for 2 1/2 hours. The temperature is, again, 115F -130F but I find that 130F to 140F range is perfectly fine too. I like this higher range better as, IMHO, I get better color this way. I find that it’s also fine to go a little longer with the smoking phase if you want more color.

Krakow sausage inside smokehouse after 3 hours of smoking.

Wood selection

While the official guidelines don’t specify which wood to use, king oak and queen hickory are the best.

Onion bags full of white oak and hickory wood chunks for smoking.

I use large wood chunks to generate smoke.

Splitting oak wood with an axe on a tree stump.

Thin blue smoke coming out of chimney of a smokehouse.

Baking

The biggest challenge for me when making smoked sausages has always been the ‘baking’ stage. Many kielbasa recipes I’ve come across, as well as the official Krakow sausage recipe, specify 20-30 minutes of baking at 165F to 195F. To get even thin sausage reach 154F internal temperature quickly seems like an almost impossible task though I’ve recently had good success finishing 38-40 mm thick andouille sausage in my new smokehouse in 40 minutes.

Finishing Krakow sausage in a smokehouse is even more challenging due to its thickness. My first and only attempt to do that was unsuccessful. The internal temperature climbed from 97F to 149F and got stuck. It took 3 hours to get there. I kept it at around 195F for 20 minutes but the internal temperature not only didn’t go up but started to drop. The dreaded stall! At around 150F, meat water loss accelerates, cooling down the surface. It can take hours to get over it.Dual temperature BBQ thermometer on a smokehouse.

I finished baking in the oven at 195F convection and it took literally 5-6 minutes to reach 154F internal. This is now my preferred method of baking (finishing) thick sausages like Krakowska kielbasa, unless they specifically call for poaching or steaming. It’s quick, predictable and effortless.

Krakow sausage hanging from the door of a smokehouse.

Krakow sausage hanging from the door of a smokehouse.

Drying and storing

Krakow sausage, once baked, is ready to eat doesn’t require any additional cooking. Cool it down to 64F and refrigerate.

Slices of krakow sausage on a brown cutting board. A larger krakow sausage on background.

Drying is an option. It makes a more intensely flavored kielbasa that will keep longer. Dry at 55F – 60F and 75% – 80% Rh until 35% weight loss is obtained.

 

Close up of Krakow sausage cut in half.

Krakow Sausage Recipe (Kielbasa Krakowska Krajana)

Recipe for the original Krakow sausage (kielbasa Krakowska). This sausage has always been the top seller in Poland. It's the queen of kielbasas.
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Course: dinner, lunch, Sausage
Cuisine: Eastern European, Polish
Keyword: kielbasa Krakowska, Krakow sausage
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 3 hours
Curing and drying: 2 days 5 hours
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 133kcal
Author: Victor

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cut the meat into 2" pieces, place in a large bowl, mix with the salt and the Cure #1. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours.
  • Separate out class III pork and grind it through a 1/8" (3 mm) plate. Then emulsify in a food processor or a bowl cutter if you own one, adding up to 25% - 30% icy water or ice to keep the meat cold. Mix in the spices.
  • In a separate bowl, mix class I pork until it becomes gluey. Add the emulcified pork with spices and mix everything together.
  • Stuff the meat into 3" (75 mm) synthetic fibrous casings using a funnel. Stuff the casings firmly and tie with a butcher's twine on both ends. Prick any visible air pockets with a needle.
  • Hang the sausages in a drafty area and dry for about 4 hours.
  • Transfer to the smoker and further dry without smoke at around 115F - 130F for 20 minutes.
  • Smoke with a thick smoke for 2 1/2 hours at around 130F - 140F.
  • Bake with a thin smoke at around 167F - 194F for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 154F-158F. This step is much easier to accomplish in a convection oven, without smoke naturally.
  • Chill to 64F and refrigerate.

Notes

The original recipe calls for 45 g of salt, which I find makes sausage that is too salty for my taste. Adjust back if you wish.

Nutrition

Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 729mg | Potassium: 405mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

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Leave a Comment

 

8 comments

Jimmy December 6, 2019 - 2:58 am

this sure sounds good, now how about the plans for the smokehouse.

Reply
Steve Denvir October 12, 2019 - 9:30 pm

I forgot to ask, what do you use for the lean pork? Loin?

And I have serious smokehouse envy.

Steve

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan October 12, 2019 - 10:34 pm

What you see on the pictures is all pork butt but it’s a pain in the butt (ha-ha) to harvest lean pieces from. Ham/leg is the best/easiest for Krakowska I find. Loin will work too but it’s the leanest of all cuts and more expensive.

That smokehouse took me well over a year to finish and to get to work, on and off of course, lot’s of frustration and 3 major re-designs until I got it to work right. But now I am in heaven. Love the results I am getting out of it immensely. Haven’t done any cold smoking in it but it’s imminent – cold smoked salmon, my wife’s favorite food.

Reply
Steve Denvir October 12, 2019 - 10:48 pm

So I probably want to up the percentage of fattier pork.

S

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan October 12, 2019 - 11:03 pm

I wouldn’t if I wanted to stay true to the original recipe. I would smoke at no higher than 130F to minimize water loss. Otherwise, slightly increasing fat % is not a bad idea.

Reply
Steve Denvir October 12, 2019 - 9:27 pm

Victor, you’re a bad person 🙂

Now I’ve got another version of kielbasa I have to make. And I’m just getting my “cheese cave” into shape after a 3 day course in Cheesemaking in Vermont last weekend.

It’s a good thing I’m somewhat retired 🙂

Steve

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan October 12, 2019 - 10:15 pm

😉 Cheese making course? That sounds like something I would love to do too. Hope now you can make buffalo milk mozzarella with ease. Do share tips and tricks you learned.

Reply