Kielbasa | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


“For anyone who thinks sausage-making is mysterious and difficult, you will be surprised, with the possible exception of firing up the grill in winter, how easy it is.”

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My memories of growing up in an Eastern European family in Ambridge include kielbasa, the version of sausage that traditionally graced our holiday table at the Christmas, New Year and Easter. As fragrant and tasty as it was, roasted and sliced on the diagonal or cooked in sauerkraut, I always ended up burping up the fat that is ground into the casing along with the meat. I hadn’t eaten kielbasa for decades, and a few years ago decided to honor the memories of my maternal Polish and paternal Slovenian ancestry by creating a modernized recipe and making my own. The foodie purist I have become prefers to avoid casing likely made from inhumanely raised pork, so I encase the meat mixture in baking parchment instead. For anyone who thinks sausage-making is mysterious and difficult, you will be surprised (with the possible exception of firing up the grill in winter) how easy it is. Enjoy this updated recipe for an ethnic culinary treat, and Wesołych Świąt!


  • 1 lb. mixture of half ground pork and half ground bison or beef (preferably humanely raised and organic)
  • 2 tbsp. ice water
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. wood-smoked salt or sea salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried marjoram
  • baking parchment
  • applewood smoking chips
  • lump hardwood charcoal (Charcoal briquettes or a gas grill might work, but don’t leave out the wood chips.)


Mix all of the food ingredients together. For a better texture, don’t over-mix. Shape into a 1½-inch diameter sausage and roll up in parchment so that one side of sausage is covered with only one layer of paper. That’s the top of the sausage. Twist ends securely. With a toothpick, punch holes in the top and two other exposed sides of the parchment, about 1 inch apart. Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes while preparing the grill for smoking. Throw the drained wet wood chips over the hot coals and immediately place the sausage on a rack away from the coals and close the lid. Smoke for about one hour.



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