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Kielbasa, Potatoes, and Sauerkraut

 

Today’s recipe is super simple. And it is super delicious too!!

Sausage and Potatoes is peasant food from the German-Polish-Hungarian-Ukraine area of Eastern Europe; a land and peoples that used to be part of the Holy Roman Empire in ancient and medieval times and part of the Soviet Block in modern times.

My father was of German-English descent, my mother was first-generation Hungarian. So I grew up eating many of the foods of Eastern Europe.

Royalty free stock photo

My maternal grandparents came to this country in the late 1800’s from Hungary. My maternal grandfather most likely immigrated to America via Canada. My maternal grandmother came to America through Ellis Island.

Long after my maternal grandmother died I was visiting the Statue of  Liberty and Ellis Island. I stood on the second floor of the Great Hall of the Immigration building and looked down at the huge space below and I thought of my

Great Hal Ellis Island (Royalty free stock photo)

grandmother, a young 18 or 19 year old, having just crossed the Atlantic ocean with only one suitcase and the clothes on her back.She came to these shores knowing only her husband-to-be waited for her. She did not know English nor American customs. I wondered how scared she must have been as she walked into that huge hall with hundreds of others looking for a better place to live.

I used to love to listen to the stories my grandfather told about life in Hungry as a peasant.  It was not until I was in college that I realized he and my grandmother were basically serfs in Hungary. My grandfather loved this country. He would always tell me the streets of America were paved with gold. I knew what he meant. But I always teased him anyway, “Grandpa, that’s just asphalt and tar,” I would say.

The food my forebears brought with them to these shores is delicious despite their humble beginnings. Today I will share one of them. In future posts I will share others.

Sausage and Potatoes has many roots. First of all, sausage has been around since early man. The Romans loved sausages. The Romans introduced Eastern Europe to sausages. Each region of Eastern Europe added local flavors and spices to the dish. At rock bottom there are only two ingredients: sausage and potatoes. Those two ingredients were often used in a soup eaten with some rustic bread  in the “old country,” as my grandfather called Europe.

The Germans call their sausage ‘wurst’ and their contribution to this dish was to add sauerkraut and beer. The Poles made their own special sausage made of only pork, salt, pepper, and garlic and sometimes marjoram. They called this sausage Polish Smoked Sausage or Kielbasa. However, a Pole calls ALL sausages Kielbasa no matter who makes it or what is in it. There are dozens of manufactures of Kielbasa in the United States and each of them uses dozens of different ingredients, spices, and chemicals, most of them a far cry from the simple original  ingredients listed above.

Today there are dozens of variations of Sausages and Potatoes. Some recipes add white wine, or chicken stock or broth. Some add green, red, or yellow peppers, apples, or carrots. Others add bacon, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, and greens such as spinach or kale. Some use russet potatoes instead of red potatoes. Some fry the sausage and the potatoes. America is truly a melting pot of good foods.

The recipe I share with you today is more German in nature as I use sauerkraut. It is also very simple, like peasant food. However, I add my own variation to the dozens of recipes out there.  First change, I steam the potatoes separately simply because it preserves the flavor of the potato, which I happen to like. When I cook the potatoes with the sausage and the sauerkraut they take on those flavors and they mask the sweet delicate flavor of the red potatoes. Second, I do not cut the sausage up into chunks, but cook them whole.

You can use any kind of sausage you like, bratwurst, Kielbasa, chorizo, even Sweet Italian in this recipe. If you like you can use sherry instead of water. Sherry adds a wonderful different level of sweetness to the dish, a nice contrast to the sauerkraut. Sherry and sauerkraut were made for each other. Sausage and Potatoes is a recipe that is endlessly adaptable.

Featured Recipe      Sausage, Potatoes and Sauerkraut
This is what you will need for 3 people:

3 Kielbasa   (about 3/4 to 1 pound)

1 package or jar of sauerkraut with juices, about 32 ounces

¼ to ½ cup water

6-9 red potatoes depending on size

2-3 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped parsley

Here is what you do:

Place the potatoes in a steamer set in a pot of water over medium heat until just cooked through.

NOTE: Start the potatoes about ten minutes before you start the sauerkraut and sausages as the potatoes will take longer to cook.

Pour the sauerkraut and the water into a pot. Place the Kielbasa on top. Cover and heat throughly.

When the potatoes are done slice them into halves or fourths depending on size, add some butter, the salt and pepper and parsley.

When the sausage and kraut is heated through place them on a plate; and then add the potatoes to the plate family style.

Pass the plate around the table. Serve with whole wheat rolls with various seeds on top.

Simple. Delicious. Filling.

Costs

3 Kielbasa               $3.74

6 red potatoes         $1.44

Sauerkraut              $1.49

Butter                     $0.50

Parsley                   $0.10

Total Cost:            $6.53
Cost per person:  $2.18

NOTES on the costs: This recipe’s per person costs is it bit higher than I normally like to use on a recession and budget oriented blog. The cost is $4.99 for four (4.) The Keilbasa I buy is expensive; yet not the most expensive. But there are less expensive brands. So you can cut the per person costs from over $2.00 per person to under $2.00 very easily.

For those who wish to limit their fat intake  this brand has less fat, less saturated fat, less cholesterrol, and less sodium then any other brand I have found. All of this without sacrficing taste and quality.

I also choose this brand because the Kielbasa comes in short sausages not one long one. There are 4 to a package. I only used 3 in this recipe so I have one more I can use for a second meal. So for me the $4.99 is divided in half to $2.50. I can make a Kielbasa sandwich with some sauteed green and red peppers and onions. Or I could make Sausage and Sauerkraut with Dumplings. These Kielbasas are versatile as well as delicious.

However, you fix your sausages and potatoes, Bon Appetite.

I leave you this time with a scene, and the wonderful music of Leonard Bernstein, from the Oscar winning movie West Side Story about immigrants in America.

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Quote of the Day

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Emma Lazarus

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