Tag Archives: sausage

Let’s Get Polish

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Kielbasa and pierogi — them’s real Polish eats. Or at least the only thing I know about Polish food.

Before I met my wife, I never got pierogi (it’s plural…really). OK, I understood them, I just never purchased them. I think it’s because I saw them as a lesser version of the holiest of Italian foods, ravioli. Potato? Who needs it when you can get some nice ricotta cheese in the middle?

It didn’t help that we didn’t know how to prepare these potato-filled dumplings. I mean, we knew to boil them, but then what do you put on them? We usually used leftover tomato sauce, but it was overpowering. So I turned to the Internet…and wonder of wonders, it suggested a classic Italian preparation: fry them up with some butter and olive oil, after FullyCookedLeanTurkeyKielbasa-main_Fullsoftening some onion and garlic in the pan.

Fine by me.

After adding some salt and pepper, these things were done. So it was time to add some Polish protein: the oft-maligned kielbasa sausage. In our case, it was Lean Turkey Kielbasa, courtesy of Jennie-O. Well, actually it was courtesy of the company because they didn’t send it to me free. (But if you’re reading this, Jennie-O, you still have time!)

Anyway, I cut it up into big chunks and threw them into the pan for some heat (it comes fully cooked already). Now that I’m looking at pictures of how it’s prepared elsewhere, I’m thinking I left the chunks a little too big. Maybe they’re supposed to be cut into coin-like shapes, as pictured on the package. Eh, what do packaging pictures know?

IMG_2944After a thorough mixing of the pierogi and kielbasa pieces, we only had to wait for the string beans to finish steaming and we were ready to eat.

I think it turned out pretty good for a quick, mid-week meal. The only problem? The kielbasa was salty as all get-out. I mean, lip-curling, water-clamoring saltiness. Hey Jennie-O, you don’t need to make up for the fact that it’s turkey with more salt than the ocean. It’d still be good with half the sodium.

This is the part where I end with a funny but inappropriate Polish joke. Fortunately for you, I don’t know any. Feel free to leave some good ones in the comments…

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A Little Slice of Chicago

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That headline’s more than a mite misleading.

See, when it comes to deep-dish Chicago pizza, “little” and “slices” don’t really fit the equation. A “fat wedge,” yes. A “mountainous piece,” sure. But a little slice? Nuh-uh, that ain’t Chicago.

unoEspecially when you order a personal pizza at the original deep-dish pizzeria, Uno. In this case, the 2-inch tall pizza is dislodged from its pan before it even makes it to the table. And slicing the thing? Not going to happen.

But let’s back up a minute. Why was I in Chicago and why did I pick Uno over the plethora of “original” deep-dish pizza joints scattered around the Windy City? The easy explanation is 1) work and 2) Uno was only a few blocks from my hotel. When it comes to seeing the sites on a business trip, I’m nothing if not lazy.

Because of the popularity of the place and its inverse relationship to the amount of seating inside, you make your order (at least anything pizza-related) when you put down your name. Since the pizza takes 45 minutes to make and the wait is usually under that, it means less time at the table watching the early birds already devouring their meals.

I ordered my personal pie with mushrooms, spinach and sausage, which seemed like the right combo… despite how much the menu pushed pepperoni on everything.

As it has probably been written elsewhere and in far greater detail, the Chicago pie switches the traditional sauce/cheese relationship, relegating the cheese to a crust-sealer position on the bottom. This definitely makes sense on paper, but I also can’t argue with the taste. Once I finally breached the outer wall of the crust (which is an extreme sport all in itself), the stew of cheese, sauce and toppings could not be contained.

end-of-pizzaThe best analogy I can give about eating this thing was that it was like eating soup out of a bread bowl, except with a super-hearty soup and an impervious-to-moisture and not-very-bowl-shaped bowl.

It was a thing of beauty, this deep-dish pizza. And one that my belly will remember fondly.

A Cajun Christmas: Shrimp, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

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I hope you all had a happy holiday break, whatever (and however) you celebrated. There’s a lot to catch up on, so let’s get to it.

The first dish up is a huge, hardy gumbo, made once again from a recipe appearing in Bon Appetit. I don’t remember exactly how I arrived at this Cajun stew for a Christmas potluck party, but, then again, there were a lot of drinks that night.

Gumbo is a dish of huge proportions in every aspect: volume, prep time, expense and taste. Be prepared to spend upwards of $40 or more to put together all the ingredients (including some not-so-easy-to-get items like clam juice and frozen okra). You’ll be in the kitchen at least an hour (including a huge amount of chopping time) and will be doing a load of stirring.

For a party of upwards of 20, I halved the recipe and still took almost half home at the end of the night. I made six cups of cooked rice to accompany it; I would suggest more like 10 cups for the halved recipe.

It may be a lot of effort, but you’ll eat like a king for days. The stew has amazing resiliency and really does taste better in the days subsequent to its marathon preparation.

As for substitutions, I did use some pre-cooked chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s instead of the andouille (in order to appease my favorite vegetarians). Just remember that since they are pre-cooked, you should only add this kind of sausage at the very end to warm it up. The same rule applies if you’re using already-cooked shrimp, as I did.