In the United States, the form kiełbasa is more often used and comes from the Polish kiełbasa “sausage”. In New Jersey, Pennsylvania and most areas of Greater New York City, a derivative of the Polish word is used, pronounced kielbasi.
Kielbasa and Sauerkraut
Kielbasa is a staple of Polish cuisine and comes in dozens of varieties, smoked or fresh, made with pork, beef, turkey, lamb, chicken or veal with every region having its own specialty. Originally made at home in rural areas, there are a wide variety of recipes for kielbasa preparation at home and for holidays. Kielbasa is also one of the most traditional foods served at Polish weddings.
In Poland, kiełbasa is often served garnished with fried onions, and – in the form of cut pieces smoked kiełbasa can be served cold, hot, boiled, baked or grilled. It can be cooked in soups such as żurek (sour rye soup), kapuśniak (cabbage soup), or grochówka (pea soup), baked or cooked with sauerkraut, or added to bean dishes, stews (notably bigos, a Polish national dish), and casseroles. Kiełbasa is also very popular served cold as coldcuts on a platter, usually for an appetizer at traditional Polish parties.
In the U.S., “kielbasa” can be bought in most Polish stores all over the USA, as well as in most major grocery store chains, which may be unsmoked or fully or partly smoked. A popular charcoal-grilled variety topped with grilled onions and sauerkraut is considered local fare in the Midwest, particularly in the Chicago metropolitan area.
Served usually together as kielbasa and sauerkraut, it is a simple dish and used at parties, buffets and traditional Polish Holiday meals as a main entree.
Try a Polish sandwich which is with kielbasa, a pickle spear, sauerkraut and mustard on Polish sourdough rye bread.
- 1 (16 ounce) package or can of sauerkraut, drained
- 2 med size onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 2 tbsp of cooking oil
- 2-1/2 links kielbasa sausage, sliced
- ¾ cup of water
- 1 to 2 tsp of caraway seeds (optional)
- Drain off the liquid and slightly rinse - drain again; place in a mixing bowl and set aside
- Peel onions, cut in half and make fairly thin slices
- Heat oil and melt the butter in a frying pan
- Add sliced onions and saute until the onions are they are less opaque and tender - add a dash or 2 of salt to bring out the sweetness of the onions
- To the sauerkraut add the onions (and optional caraway seeds) mix well into the sauerkraut
- Take the kielbasa and either slice to bite-sized pieces or in 6" pieces
- In a baking dish, aluminum tray or similar layer about ¾ of the of the sauerkraut
- Add the kielbasa on top of the sauerkraut and top with the remaining sauerkraut
- Add to this about ¾ cup of water, cover with foil and back for 45 mins or until the kielbasa is fully cooked through.