Showing posts with label golabki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label golabki. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Joseph's Table

Happy Day Before St. Patrick's Day, and let's throw a little curveball into the celebration, shall we?

Growing up in the Catholic School system, I wore uniforms every day for twelve years. My grammar school didn't make any exception for St. Patrick's Day, and except for the teachers decorating the bulletin boards in green, the day usually passed by without much notice. Without a drop of Irish in my blood and surrounded (insulated?) by Polish friends and family, St. Paddy's Day wasn't any big deal at all.

When I made it to high school, however, all that changed. We were allowed to decorate our uniforms on St. Paddy's day with shamrock pins, and I started to learn more about "South Side Irish" - which is a very, very big deal here in Chicago. Some of my friends' last names were Durcan, Corcoran, etc... you get the picture. Today my closest friend is a McLaughlin.

Still, my family didn't really celebrate much on March 17th. When I worked in Chicago's Loop, I checked out the green-dyed river, but I've never made it to either the Chicago St. Paddy's Day Parade, or the South Side Irish Parade (now canceled). This week is a different celebration for us - this week (March 19th) we celebrate St. Joseph's Day. Polish folks love St. Joseph's Day because it's another chance to enjoy traditional food - and lots of it.

I'll bet Cleo can tell you more, because Italians celebrate St. Joseph's as well. Probably even bigger than Polish folks do. There's always a St. Joseph's feast, where everyone brings a dish and we share our specialties and the company of each other until everybody rolls away from the table. I haven't participated in one of those events in a while, but they were always great.

Just like St. Paddy's - if St. Joseph's falls on a Friday during Lent, we can get "special dispensation" to eat meat. And we do (cough, cough... I haven't observed the no-eat-meat rule for a long time...)

Here around the Chicago area (yes, even in the suburbs!) you can find a Polish deli pretty easily. Rather than cook for my family this time - it's crunch time with another trip coming up and a couple of crazy deadlines - I'm shopping at a Polish deli for some of our food this week. One of the best things about a trip to their counter is that you'll find full meals there, ready to bring home, heat up, and enjoy.

The photo below is of one of my favorite foods from a St. Joseph's table - golabki (pron: ga-LOOM-kee) along with sausage and sauerkraut. Golabki, here doused in a thick tomato sauce, is a pork/beef/rice mixture rolled up in a cabbage leaf. It's fabulous. I can't make these at home - they just never turn out as well as the deli-purchased ones do.

So today, my hint is this: After you're finished celebrating on March 17th, check out your neighborhood. See if you can find a Polish deli, and treat yourself to some traditional treats like these above on March 19th. Dinner will be ready in a snap and I guarantee you'll head back for more.

Happy St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's Days!


By the way - I won't be here next week. Sheila Connolly will be guesting in my place. Please make her feel welcome!


Don't forget about Jenn's contest! We’re celebrating cupcakes! Our own Jenn McKinlay’s Sprinkle with Murder is now out in bookstores near you and it's making more than a sprinkle, it's making a huge splash! If you’d like to win cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop, send us an e-mail at or leave a comment with your idea of the wackiest cupcake ingredients you can think of.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fresh Polish Sausage and Sauerkraut

I live in the Chicago area, where it’s easy to find great Polish food, but without a doubt the very, very best Polish food always showed up on holiday tables at my house, my aunt’s and my Busia’s (grandmother’s). To this day I swoon at the sight of golabki, (ga-LOOM- key -- stuffed cabbage rolls in a tomato sauce), hoska bread (egg twist with golden raisins), and what we fondly refer to in this house as “dusty noodle soup.”

In my last post I mentioned that Thanksgiving was always our holiday growing up. My mom took it over when she and my dad got married. In addition to serving the traditional turkey, her family stuffing (ooh, yum!) and all the fabulous side dishes you might expect to enjoy on Thanksgiving, my mom—whose mother came from Luxembourg and whose father was French-Belgian—bravely attempted to prepare fresh Polish Sausage and sauerkraut.

Her process—simple, yet delicious—is the same one I follow these days when I make the Polish Sausage and sauerkraut for the Thanksgiving feast at my brother’s house. It’s pretty fabulous and even though she didn’t care for it herself, my mom truly made the best Polish Sausage, ever.

Polish sausage is known as kielbasa (keel-bassa) and that’s what we always called it. Most folks recognize kielbasa as the red, smoked variety. I prefer the fresh, also known as kielbasa biala.

This photo is from the Polana website. I usually pick up my sausage from a local Polish-owned deli, but after perusing the Polana site... I'm sorely tempted to give them a try.

Preparing the fresh version is easy, and it was only after I got married that I realized my non-Polish mom had added an extra step—one that makes all the difference.

As healthy recipes go, this one is NOT

For a big feast…

The day before: Place 5 - 7 lbs of fresh Polish Sausage in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat so that the sausage simmers for a little while. Say, about 25 minutes. Remove from the water and cut into serving-size pieces. Don’t worry if the sausage is still pink, you’re not finished cooking yet. Place all the pieces in a very large bowl and refrigerate.

On the “feast” day – cut up bacon slices into small pieces and fry them up in another deep Dutch oven. When they’re crisp and sizzling in grease, add three jars/cans of prepared sauerkraut (kapusta). Trust me, the store-bought versions are pretty excellent. I prefer Frank’s Polish Style with Caraway. Mix the bacon, grease, and kraut well and keep it hot until ready to serve.

Here’s the extra step: About a half hour before serving, melt a little Crisco in a very, very big frying pan. (We have a specific Polish Sausage pan.) Add your serving-size pieces of sausage. Keep the heat on medium and keep stirring the sausages (watch out, they like to bounce out!) until the pink is all cooked away, and the casings start to brown.

Most folks serve the sausage with the kraut, but we prefer to keep them in separate bowls. There are quite a few of us who enjoy mixing our kraut with our mashed potatoes.

If you have any fresh horseradish on hand… bring it out!

My personal pics aren’t here because I won’t make this until Wednesday this week, but I can’t wait. Getting hungry already!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!!
Hugs to all,
My White House Chef Mystery series includes State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, and Eggsecutive Orders (coming in January). All from Berkley Prime Crime.

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