- Food and Cooking
An ode to Polish sausage
Why Polish sausage should conquer the world
Funny how inspiration can strike you in the most unexpected of times. My recent Muse has paid me a visit when I was happily tucking into my dinner. My quick, cheap, delicious and nutricious dinner. I looked at my plate and suddenly I knew what my next lens is going to be about. Behold the champion of the meat world - Polish sausage!
Photos by Tiggered
Welcome to sausage world
Your basic sausage comes in many varieties worldwide. There's sausage of the British Isles - a sad, whitish affair, tasting suspiciously of cardboard (don't get me wrong here, I'm not an enemy of fried breakfast, I love bacon and eggs, black puddings etc., but English/Irish sausage is the one thing I simply cannot stand and having once tried it, I wouldn't eat it again even for a lot of money). There are common hot dog fillers that, as Terry Pratchett once written, too often have more in common with pinkness than with meat. There are various salamis and pepperonis, and those can be a real treat, especially that imagination of the people who put all those tasty things on salami's rinds seems endless. There are Spanish chorizos, which I definitely need to learn more about and which come a close second on my personal sausage champions list. And then there's Polish sausage. Which is pork gone to heaven.
Two important questions before I go any further
Have you ever tried Polish sausage?
Did you like it?
Beginner's guide to Polish sausage
If you live in Poland, you probably already know how to prepare Polish sausage and where to get it, and you probably don't need to read this lens at all (but hey, try to read on, it may yet prove to be funny!). If you live anywhere else... well, let's tackle the first obstacle - where to get it. The answer is simple - from a Polish shop. Poles tend to crawl all over the world (I'm not being abusive here, anyway I'm entitled to say that because I'm Polish myself and I've crawled far enough from home) and wherever they go, they set up Polish food shops. Or European, or Eastern-European, or whatever they are called in your part of the world. The sausages usually keep the original labels, so I will follow with a little guide to Polish sausage brands to help you choose.
You can also try making your own. But that's for the advanced adepts in the art of cooking, so be warned.
Does size matter?
Basically, Polish sausage comes in three types. The thickest is about 8-10 cm in diameter. The whole thing is a good chunk of meat, so buying only a cut would be advisable, unless you have a really big family to feed. It is usually very dry, keeps well and you use it like you would use salami - thinly sliced on bread or on pizza. The best brand is called Krakowska.
Next size down is more versatile. It's roughly 3-5 cm in diameter and is usually not as dryas its bigger cousin. It is also more difficult to slice (you can still slice it a bit thicker and eat it on sandwich - delicious with some ketchup or mayonnaise). There are so many ways to eat this type of sausage that I'll get back to it in a separate section. For now it's enough to know that the best brand is called Slaska, with Torunska coming next. If you are more ambitious, try Jalowcowa (with some juniper berries added for taste) or Mysliwska, which is much drier.
The third and thinnest type of sausage is called 'kabanos' and usually is very, very dry. The drier, the better! The only officially sanctioned way of eating it is straight from the packet, dipping in mustard in between the bites. OK, I lied here, this is how I eat it, but there SHOULD be a law about it.
The most beautiful thing about Polish sausage (apart from the taste, of course) is the fact that you can eat it at any time of the day. Let me give you few examples.
Breakfast. Cut it in half lengthwise, fry and serve as a part of Irish breakfast. Or slice and add to scrambled eggs. Or stay raw and simply put it on your sandwich.
Dinner. The easiest thing to do is to simply fry it (just as you would for breakfast) and serve alongside mashed potatoes and any salad. The simplest dinner in the world, but taste-wise it's royalty.
You can also slice it and add it to a stir-fry (tomatoes + corgette + peppers + onions + sausage, all cut to similar size chunks and fried, delicious!).
Beans in tomato sauce are another classic dish. Boil the beans until soft and water has nearly evaporated (you can pour the excess water away), add sliced sausage and tomato concentrate. Voila, your dinner is ready.
I could go on. Really.
Supper. Put your sausage on a sharpened stick and slowly roast it over a bonfire. Preparation is fun, taste is heaven and you don't get to wash the dishes afterwards.
Tip: don't put your sausage into the flame, or you'll get charcoal on the outside and cold raw meat inside. Keep it over the fire. It takes longer, but the taste is worth waiting for.
Don't have a bonfire handy? Works just as well on a grill (barbecue?). And in domestic fireplaces, but I imagine it goes a bit against health and safety regulations and you've never heard about it from me, rrrright?
If you want to try your hand in making your own sausages, here are the books with some useful info and detailed recipes.
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Did you like this lens? Hated it? Found it any useful? Or simply have a good sausage story to share? Do not hesitate, type away!