Wednesday, January 9, 2013

With a Horn and a Gun

Thought for the day:  Jokes about German sausage are the absolute wurst.


Okay, so this post isn't about German sausage, but it IS about kielbasa... Polish sausage. How'd ya like to learn how to make it?

And as a bonus, you can also see how my old-fashioned vs. new-fangled competition went.


 That chunk of cow horn is what I've used to stuff sausage casings for more than forty years. We'll call it Davey, okay? And the modern sausage-making tool, a nifty gift from my brother, is our Goliath. This was my first time using it.

Just for kicks, I decided to use Davey to make the first ring of sausage, and Goliath for the other, and compare the times. Yeah, I know. Kinda like comparing a modern text messenger with an old guy sending Morse code, right?

Still, let's see how it went, shall we?


First, to make any sausage, you need ground meat. For kielbasa, I use pork butt, and have the butcher grind it for me, including all its fat. To make good juicy sausage, you MUST have some fat. Pork is so much leaner than it used to be, some people add additional ground fat to their sausage. Not my choice to do that, though. Just try to find meats with some marbling and fat around the edges, and you'll be fine, as long as you don't overcook it.

These are the four simple ingredients I use. Of the four, I consider marjoram to be the most important. If you make kielbasa, don't use a dusty ol' bottle of marjoram that's been sitting on your pantry shelf for God only knows how long, okay? Spring for a fresh bottle. You'll notice the salt, pepper and garlic are all coarse ground.


You need to add enough spices to your sausage to be able to see them. I don't follow a recipe, and judge when it's just right by the smell and look of the meat. The latest batch I made was about three and a half pounds of meat, and I used about half a bottle of marjoram, maybe a tablespoon or so of garlic powder and pepper, and about a teaspoon of salt. (Sorry I can't be more specific. I don't measure.) When the mixture looks and smells good, you can pinch off a small patty's worth and fry it for a quick taste test.

A squirt of Pam makes it easier to slip the casing onto the horn. Tie a knot in the end, and start pushing the meat through the horn with your fingers and into the casing. Keep a straight pin handy so you can prick the casing if an air pocket develops. As for the casing, it's fairly easy to find in some parts of the country, but not so much in others. Here, I can get it fresh at Whole Foods. You may even be able to order it online.


The first ring, made with Davey, is almost finished here. Total time from first bit of meat shoved through the horn to the second end tie-off? Fifteen minutes. Not too shabby, huh?

Time to try the big gun. It comes with several different sizes of tubes, but this one looked about right, so I gave it a shot of Pam and pushed the casing on, easy-peasy, slick as all get-out. Time to check the clock...

Here's the gun, fully loaded with meat and ready to shoot. Doesn't it look cool?

Unfortunately, I encountered a few (ahem) ESO (Equipment Superior to Operator) problems. Those black screw-on caps at either end of the tube LOOK the same, don't they? I thought so, too. But the threading isn't the same. After I loaded the tube with meat the first time, I couldn't screw the darned thing onto the gun. Once it was switched, reloaded, casing reattached, and then hooked up correctly, squeezing the trigger emptied the tube and shot the meat into the casing lightning fast. Too fast. (Okay, so maybe I was blasting it like Al Capone with a tommy gun...) The Pam I'd stupidly put on the nozzle didn't help, either. The casing flew off the nozzle so fast, the meat packed way too loosely amid a ton of monster air pockets. So, after I used a wooden spoon handle to push the last bits of meat out of the nozzle, I had to manually squeeze the meat through the casing and eliminate all the air pockets. Bottom line: with all my screw-ups, it was well over thirty minutes before I tied the final knot in the second ring of sausage.

So, Davey beat Goliath. This time. Kinda. Next time, the gun will definitely blast my handy dandy horn outta the water. If I hadn't been so darned trigger-happy and charmed by the gun's speed this time, I could've ... I should've... been controlling the packing and air pockets as I went along.

Bottom line? It doesn't matter how ya fill the casing. (My mother-in-law had a sausage attachment on her electric mixer.) This stuff is DEE-licious. Simple to prepare, too. Barely cover it with water, bring to a slow boil, and then simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes. Drain most of the water, and add sauerkraut. Cook until heated through. Serve with mashed potatoes. And there ya have it... Polish comfort food at its finest. And if you don't want to stuff your meat into casings at all, you could always make some unique-tasting burgers.

                     I'd show you what it looked like after it was cooked... but we (erp!) ate it.

(Oh yeah, just so ya know, a pair of old-timer Morse code operators DID beat a pair of hot shot text messengers on the Jay Leno show a couple years ago... )

                                      So, what's YOUR favorite comfort food?

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.  [Orson Welles}

My mom made two dishes: Take it or Leave it.  [Stephen Wright]

                          Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

66 comments:

  1. Goliath looks like the gun I use to caulk around my bathtub. The kielbasa making lesson was a work of art. Beautiful clear photos and talk about sauerkraut. yum So do you think you will retire David when Goliath minds his P's and Q's?
    The 2 quotes at the end made me laugh. Sounds like my grandmother's dishes.

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    1. Exactly! The gun reminded me of a caulking gun, too. Well, no, I doubt if I'll ever completely retire Davey. I have a lot of ball point pens, but I still love my fountain pens.

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  2. Favorite comfort food?

    Fried shrimp. But it has to come with hushpuppies and cold beer.

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    1. Oh yeah, shrimp is high on my list, too. Matter of fact, ANY kind of seafood is way up there.

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  3. Love the two quotes!
    I don't see myself ever making my own sausages, but I will make the mix and fry it as patties.
    My comfort food is mashed potatoes with onion gravy.

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    1. Yum, mashed potatoes and onion gravy is one of my favorites, too. Even makes calves' liver taste good.

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  4. Wow, I don't think I'd have the guts to make sausage but you made it look easy. I think I'm more likely to fry it into patties. My comfort food is bread, good bread.

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    1. It IS easy, and depending on what kind of spices you use, you can make all kinds of sausages. You're right; it's hard to beat fresh-baked bread still warm from the oven... topped with sweet butter that's melting and running over your fingers.

      Hmmm, I'm beginning to believe I simply like to EAT.

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  5. Sue, that looks absolutely yummy! I might have to make sausage for dinner tonight (although I'm not stuffing it myself).

    Funny you should mention texts and Morse Code. I have an article from Wired magazine open beside me on "tweeting" before Twitter. It's about telegrams. I'll be doing a blog post on it next week.

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    1. It IS yummy.

      I'll be looking forward to your post about tweeting vs. telegrams. (If you want to see a video of the competition on Leno's show, do a Google or Youtube search. The clip is copyrighted by the TV station, but it still shows up on a number of web sites.)

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  6. Wow! That's amazing. And kudos to you for keeping old ways alive. I hope you've taught your kids how to make it. I'm sure it tastes a hundred times better than the store-bought stuff.

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    1. It does taste a lot better than store-bought, and besides, it's nice to know it's made with a specific cut of meat. No telling what kind of by-products the store-bought stuff contains.

      As for the kids, no, I've never taught any of them, because none of them have expressed any interest in learning. Maybe they'd rather believe I'm always gonna be here to fix it for them. (Oh, well. When I'm gone, they can always read about in on my blog!)

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  7. Mmmm. I'll bet that was delicious! I kind of doubt I'll ever make my own sausage (I mean, come on--my idea of cooking involves cardboard boxes and the microwave), but I can appreciate it when others do. :)

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    1. It was definitely yummy. Hey, you don't have to make sausage... or anything else. A smart woman doesn't have to be a great cook; she just has to know where to find great food. My DIL's idea of preparing a fine meal is speed-dialing her favorite restaurant.

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  8. Not a big fan of sausage I'm afraid....favourite comfort food.....home made pizza.

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    1. Pizza sounds good. We can hold the Italian sausage.

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  9. This was quite interesting, as I had not known anything about how sausage was actually made. I didn't realize it would be so easy to make at home! Well I should say you made it look easy anyway :)

    Favorite comfort food...ICE CREAM!

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    1. I didn't make it look easy... it IS easy!

      Yum, strawberry ice cream. Or pistachio almond. Or really good vanilla in a glass of really good root beer.

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  10. Oh yum. There's nothing like fresh sausage, whatever kind you make. My favorite comfort sausage is ground beef, sage, onion powder, coriander, salt and pepper. I don't use casings anymore. After mixing thoroughly, I roll them into tubular similarity between my hands and fry. Add mash and onion gravy. Heaven!
    And yeah, spring for new herbs and spices. I get them so cheap in the bulk dept of our coop, it's silly. Even more ridiculously cheap to buy from SanFran Herbs- 6 or 7 bucks a pound? And treat the other cooks I know, too!

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    1. Your sausage sounds good, too. The only one I've ever made with beef is summer sausage, and that's pretty good, but not my favorite. Oh yeah, and veal to make bratwurst. It's good that you can get herbs and spices in bulk there. I can get some here, but not marjoram.

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    2. Marjoram'll be in the spring order, I'll send you some.

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    3. Ooops! I darned near missed your comment hiding in here. Sorry about that. Thanks for the sweet offer. I really appreciate it, but you don't have to do that.

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  11. As a vegetarian, is it wrong that not only did I find this interesting but that I was also eager to see the end product?
    I know, I'm a traitor to veggie-kind everywhere.

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    1. Nah! Not at all. It never hurts to LOOK. And I'm pretty sure the veggies won't hold it against you. They know you've "bean" a good girl.

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  12. I hate sausage but I almost want to have some now after reading this. You never know what you can find in blog land, I'd never expect to come upon a kielbasa post! :)

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    1. Yeah, I guess you could say my blog is a bit eclectic. Kind of like a smorgasbord. (I don't know how to say that in Polish...)

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  13. You've inspired me to give this a shot..b/c in my house we love sausage.

    www.girlwithanewlife2.com

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  14. I don't know Susan. Looks like a heart attack to me. But I have to confess, I love Kielbasa... with a little kraut, kartoffel salad and stout!

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    1. Hey, happy new year! Good to hear from you again. Actually, homemade sausage is much healthier than the store-bought stuff. MUCH less fat, and no questionable body parts or fillers.

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  15. LOVE the Orson Wells quote!

    My favorite comfort food? Chocolate.

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    1. I like that quote, too. Unfortunately, my husband and I can relate. The two of us sometimes enjoy a nice intimate dinner for four, too. Yum, chocolate. That isn't comfort food. That's a necessity.

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  16. That's exactly how sausage should be... just pure meat and seasoning. Luckily such things are standard fare here in France so making one's own is unnecessary.

    Favourite comfort food.... any cold meats!

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    1. That's the way it should be, but unfortunately, you can't count on getting it here. You surprised me. I figured you'd opt for cheese or bread. Years ago, that's what my husband and I called our "true essence" feast... cold meat, cheese, and a good loaf of bread. With wine, of course. And we always sat on the floor to eat it. The strange things we do when we're young...

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  17. Despite your ESO problems, they look perfect! That took lots of energy and patience Pearl, I mean Susan!
    I'll have to use the Stephen Wright quote with my family! Julie

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    1. Yeah, that Wright quote is a good one. Nope, not Pearl. She buys hers ready-made from the Polish market. HA!

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  18. My husband used to help his grandmother and mother make the kielbasa when he was growing up. He buys it now for Easter and my son also might give him a gift of it from a local store in his area. He tells me, it is not the same or as good as homemade. I am not a lover of that type of sausage as I grew up in a bland, almost tasteless, Irish household.

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    1. You could always surprise your hubby by making him some kielbasa from scratch... just THINK of all the brownie points that'd get ya!

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  19. ha! we are having store bought sausage and peppers tonight...nothing like the soupies and kielbasa I had growing up in the coal regions... your sausage looks wonderful!!!! and a whole lot better than the sausage they showed in Les Mis...

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    1. Oh, if that coal region was in Pennsylvania, I KNOW you grew up eating genuine kielbasa. My mother-in-law's family was from Scranton, and there's a (or at least, there used to be) large Polish community there.

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  20. Wow that looked great! Def gonna' go in search of one of those sausage guns.. Looks like my handy dandy cookie press on steroids. :)

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    1. My brother bought our guns through the internet. However, a piece on his has already broken, and it turns out, the company doesn't sell replacement pieces for this particular model. He says the company does offer replacement parts for another model it sells, though.

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  21. 'Spring for a fresh bottle.'

    This made me smile as I am bustling about in the kitchen more these days with my good intentions and I have to decided which spice jars and bottles of vinegar and oil to keep using and which ones to replace.

    Bon appetit!

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    1. I use a lot of different herbs and spices, but would you believe I had a jar of cardamom I bought while we were still living in MD? (We moved to GA in '71!) It's one of those things I only use sparingly when I make raisin bread, but needless to say, THAT particular bottle is no longer with us. (Time really DOES go fast when you're having fun!)

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  22. Oh I am glad the old beat the new Funny but I was thinking that would happen. I think your sausage recipe sounds delicious. We cannot get casings around here but I love to use this as a patty. Great post. B

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    1. Yeah, but I have a feeling the old won't beat the new next time. My brother can't get casings where he lives, either, but he orders them through the internet. Glad ya liked the post; If you try it, I hope you like the sausage, too.

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  23. Favorite Comfort Food: Sugar cookies and chocolate milk.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. It's hard to beat good ol' cookies and milk. Especially homemade cookies, still warm from the oven.

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  24. Well, this was something I never thought I would learn how to do. I love the idea of the horn and that it beat its modern competition. My comfort food: Meatloaf and mashed potatoes!

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    1. I'm shocked! What? No Swedish meatballs and noodles? (I'm glad you didn't say lutefisk!)

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  25. WOW! Being half polish I ONLY get my kielbasa at a Polish butcher in Philadelphia or the Amish market (they've got it down) :-)

    I don't eat meat like I used to but I sure splurged at had it at Christmas!!

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    1. Oh yeah, you don't have to MAKE it... you only have to know where to FIND it, and luckily, you live in a great area for finding terrific kielbasa. Good for you. (I'm not at all jealous... 'cept for maybe that Amish macaroni salad...)

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  26. Hi Susan,

    Yes and yay, it's me, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar! My human, Gary, informs me that he likes to polish his sausage. I have no idea what he's talking about.

    If I wasn't such a 'pawlite' dog, I'd probably attempt to do innuendoes in regards to your delightful and no doubt, delicious pawsting, sorry, posting. A squirt of Pam...um...never mind..:)

    My favourite comfort food is "Webbox Chomping Chews", especially the chicken flavoured ones....

    Pawsitive wishes and doggy kisses, Penny xx

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    1. Down, boy! (Not YOU, Penny... I'm talking to Gary!) HA! He seems to be in rare punny form today, doesn't he? That's okay. Lucky for him, I love puns. You take care of him, now, and you both have a great weekend. Tell him to buy you some of those chicken chews.

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  27. As a little boy I would haunt my grandmother's kitchen and watch her make linguica and morcela the old-time way. Good memories, thanks. So this gun, does one need a permit?

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  28. Oh. My. Gosh! I can't believe you actually do that! I'm such a wimp, I'd probably pass out if I made that. I love the way it tastes, though :)

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  29. HA! It's no different from mixing meat to make a meatloaf, except of course, you stuff the mixture inside of a piece of animal intestine...

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  30. Hi Susan .. we used to have an attachment to our Kenwood - and my Mama made sausages ... I love meatloaf too ... and often put in Cumin ... but the South Africans make boerewors on their farms .. I miss that from those days and the braai ...

    Loved watching you make your Polish sausages ... look delicious .. wish you were here!!

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. It's neat that your mother made sausage... how about you? I'll bet you remember how she did it.

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  31. When I had my Kitchenaid k45 mixer I had a sausage attachment. I used that machine daily for years before the motor broke off from the frame. Made pizzas weekly etc.

    Once you get used to that gun I think your production speed will increase. In Wilkes-Barre I found great Kielbasa, and Pittsburgh too. You CANNOT beat homemade sausage because you control the ingredients. Remember - factories put all kinds of things in products, not for your benefit but for theirs. Either to enhance taste or extend shelf life or whatnot.

    I love sausage - kielbasa, smoked sausage, Italian sausage and breakfast sausage (prefer patties to links in this instance)

    I wish I could catch every post, I'm glad you mentioned this one, I get busy or hassled and fall behind.

    Comfort food? Most food is that to me. Every time I make rice I make extra so as to make fried rice later, but after supper I eat the plain rice with maybe a touch of soy sauce or fish sauce; eat it right out of the pot so I guess that is my comfort food. The last 6 chicken dishes I have prepared are Chicken Marsala, my BW absolutely raves about it. 6 is a bit much, I like to make curries. A 1.5 litre bottle of marsala wine is almost empty. We don't drink alcohol so I've made a lot of chicken with it. This must be my spouses comfort food.

    Enjoy reading your posts, take good care of yourself.

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  32. I think you're right about getting better with the gun as I get to using it more often. And I also agree that no store-bought sausage can beat homemade.

    Yeah, I think most food is comfort food to me, too. It's a wonder I'm not as big as a house. I love chicken Marsala, but like veal Marsala even more. (As long as it isn't too heavy with lemon juice... dunno why, but some restaurants really get heavy-handed with the lemon. I wanta taste the wine and mushrooms, doggone it!)

    You take care, too.

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    1. Back again, I would love veal, my mama used to get it all the time. In my local Ingles supermart the last time they had veal (a very tiny selection) it was 12.99lb. Same thing with lamb, once in a blue moon they offer it but the price is too high for me.
      I use bottled lemon juice and use only a capful for four servings.
      I no longer have sausage making equipmnt but can use my cuisinart and make patties. You making me remember those days and that taste again.
      Thanks Susan.

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    2. You're right; it's getting harder and harder to find veal for a decent price. Trader Joe's sells some fairly nice lamb, though. So does Publix. And some of the international markets around Atlanta sell just about any kind of meat you'd want. (or wouldn't want)

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  33. ... loved this post, friend Sue ... have been on my ketogenic trip for a year now ... and doing well ... high fat (cheese and avocado), moderate protein (love my meats) and no carbs (still miss them grains and potatoes though), no sugar (easy), no canned stuff (except canned fish) ... am 61 years young, am 5'10", weighing 135 lbs ... Love, cat.

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    1. It's cool to get a new comment on this old post. :) Thanks!

      I'm glad the diet is working so well for you. You are delightfully thin... and a tall drink of water, as my grandmother used to say. What counts most is if you're feeling well. My hubby and I were on the Atkins diet a while back, but eating that much meat and protein didn't work well for me.

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