Category Archives: Pork

Kielbasa and Sauerkraut, a Polish tale

A Polish Tradition, Kielbasa and Sauerkraut

In our town, Grand Rapids Michigan, we just had our yearly event Pulaski Days. It’s our polish holiday and quite frankly, one does not have to be Polish to appreciate the wonderful food and many halls available to quench one’s thirst. It is a much-anticipated weekend by Polish and non-Polish residents of our town. Our own Westside is where these jolly events take place with many authentic dishes including Kielbasa and Sauerkraut.

The Pulaski Days is an annual local three-day celebration of General Casimir Pulaski in Grand Rapids, Michigan where the normally private Polish Halls open their doors to the public. The celebration takes place on the first full weekend in October. Most of the halls involved (14 total in the Grand Rapids area) were established in the mid-to-late 19th century.

The Polish Halls use this event as a fund-raiser to maintain their non-profit organizations. The celebration of Polish heritage draws attendance from throughout Michigan as well as other areas of the country with populations of Polish origin.

Since I work every weekend, I missed out on the terrific food and have been craving some yummy polish kielbasa. So,on my way home from an appointment the other day, I pulled into a very well-known grocery store on the west side, Ralph’s. It’s not a fancy market, not at all. The neighborhood has seen better days, but they make their own kielbasa from an old family recipe that has been passed down through generations. There are many locals who will debate which of the old markets on the westside has the best recipe for Kielbasa. I wouldn’t dare disagree with any of them, but Ralph’s was right on my route home, and my obvious choice. I am not disappointed at all!

Though I have enjoyed in the past, simply browning my Kielbasa and adding the sauerkraut to a crock pot and cooking it slow for hours, my boys did not care for the sour flavors and left my kraut untouched. This time, I decided to make it a bit sweeter. To my surprise, even my little one ate his right up! Success!

Yields: 6 or more servings

Ingredients:
2 lbs fresh Kielbasa (I opted for the extra garlic flavor this time)
1 32 oz package sauerkraut drained and rinsed with cold water
1 whole onion sliced
EVOO to saute onion
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon allspice
Fresh Ground pepper to taste
Do not add salt to this recipe

Cut kielbasa into 3 inch pieces. Heat a large frying pan and 1 tsp of EVOO and add Kielbasa. Brown sausage about 3 minutes and turn to brown other side. It does not have to cook through as it will finish in roasting pan later. Remove sausage and set aside. Add more EVOO if needed to saute onions. Be sure not to burn. When onions are beginning to soften, add chicken broth, brown sugar, Dijon mustard and allspice. Whisk together until sugar and mustard are well incorporated. Bring to a boil. Add sauerkraut and kielbasa. Gently mix all ingredients, remove from heat and transfer to an electric roasting pan or crock pot. Heat at 250 degrees for at least 3 hours and up to 6. Serve together or as many of the Polish like to do, serve on a piece of rye bread with extra mustard.

Note: This may also be prepared in the oven at 250 degrees. Cover 9×13 pan tightly with foil, checking every couple of hours to be sure all of the liquid hasn’t evaporated.

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Honey Dijon Pork Chops

succulent and juicy Center cut pork chops with a sweet and savory Honey Dijon Sauce. Served with grilled corn on the cob and Dijon Butter with Thyme for Green beans. A meal to impress!

These are absolutely the BEST Pork Chops I’ve ever eaten! Tender and flavorful, but its the sauce made with honey, Dijon mustard, wine, fresh sage and thyme that makes this a dish impressive enough to compete with your favorite restaurant! I would happily pay for this dish at a fine dining establishment and walk away knowing I just got my money’s worth.

I was inspired at the grocery store when I found some beautiful center cut boneless pork chops. The next aisle had sauces and marinades. Lawrey’s Honey Dijon marinade caught my attention. I picked it up, then sat it down. Why couldn’t I make my own? I have honey, I have Dijon in the refrigerator. After a couple of days of playing with the recipe in my head, my mom brought over some fresh Sage and Thyme from Ma’s Garden. With my plan pulling together, all that was left, was to pick up a good bottle of white wine. Here is probably my most impressive dinner yet, I hope you enjoy!

Recipe yields 4 servings

Ingredients for Honey Dijon Pork Chops

4 center cut pork chops cut about 1 1/2 inch thick (bone in or out)
EVOO
Sea Salt and Fresh ground Black Pepper to taste
2 Cups white wine
1/3 cup Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup Honey
2 TBS fresh Sage or 1 TBS Dried Sage
1 TBS fresh Thyme or 1/2 TBS Dried Thyme

In a large good quality frying pan, heat 2 TBS EVOO on high. Drizzle more EVOO on both sides of the pork chops, salt and pepper both sides and place into hot pan. Sear the first side until it gets golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn and repeat on the second side. Remove pork chops and lower heat to Med-high. Add 2 cups of white wine, honey and Dijon mustard. Whisk together in pan, getting the yummy brown bits off the bottom. When mixture comes to a boil, add fresh herbs, give a stir, and then add pork chops back into pan. Cover tightly and simmer for about 30 minutes or until chops are tender. When chops are done, remove to a plate. Bring the remaining sauce to a quick boil and whisk until it thickens to a sauce (not a thick gravy). Pour sauce over chops and Serve with Grilled Corn and Dijon Butter and a serving of Thyme for Green beans.

Directions for Dijon Corn

Grill 4 corn cobs (you may steam or boil if desired)
The last few minutes of cooking time baste with mixture of 2 TBS soft butter and 2 TBS Dijon Mustard. If you are steaming or boiling you corn, remove from heat and baste with brush the Dijon butter mixture.

Pulled Pork BBQ

I’ve watched the Food Networks BBQ competitions many times and many other of their famous chefs making Pulled Pork BBQ. Their methods and techniques are practiced for many years and appear complex. I drool as I watch them pull apart the juicy Pork with its crusty edges and then pour their homemade sauce with ingredients such as apple cider, brown sugar, honey, spices, garlic and others that they keep secret. I have pondered attempting this seemingly daunting task of smoking a pork shoulder slathered in rub and mopped in sauce, but I, the common cook do not have the hours to spend over a smoker, nor, do I have a large enough grill to attempt. Not to mention, I’d be terrified that I would dry out my whole Pork shoulder, thus leaving me with serving grilled cheese and canned soup for dinner (though that is also a family favorite).

After much thinking and a bit of research, I am happy to say, I have found a way to deliver a manageable recipe for the common cook with all the flavors of the professionals, complete with your own homemade BBQ sauce!

Ingredients:

4-5 lb pork shoulder
4-5 TBS McCormick Grill Mates Pork Rub (this has brown sugar, chili pepper, red pepper, onion and apple cider vinegar already in the rub)
2-3 tsp EVOO

I have an electric roaster that my Grandma purchased for me over 10 years ago from QVC that has also doubled as my crock pot that I use weekly! I spray with cooking spray and preheat it to 400 degrees for searing my Pork. Earlier, I had removed my Pork shoulder from the refrigerator to take the chill off from it (about 20 minutes) Rub the meat with EVOO, coating all sides. Then, generously massage in McCormick Grill Mates Pork Rub all over. Let meat sit for a few minutes while the roaster heats up. Then, place Pork into roaster to sear for about 5 minutes, turning to brown the other side. Lower heat to 300 and cook for about 4 hours covered until meat is falling apart. If you do not have an electric roaster, use a covered roasting pan in the oven. First, brown meat in a large heavy skillet, making a sweet crust on the outside. After the first couple of hours, add a cup or two of water if needed to keep meat moist, but there is usually enough juice from the Pork Shoulder to keep it happy. When pork is falling apart. Carefully remove from pan and let rest. Meanwhile, prepare your BBQ Sauce.

Ingredients for BBQ Sauce:

1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 cup Brown sugar
Pan drippings (plus water if needed) to make 1/4 cup
1 TBS diced garlic (I used the jarred kind already diced)
1/4 cup mustard ( I prefer the brown)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tsp McCormick Grill Mates Pork Rub
Fresh Ground pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a low boil, using a wire whisk to dissolve sugar and make into a smooth sauce. Keep stirring occasionally mixture will begin to thicken 5-7 minutes. It should be the consistency of a cream soup (tomato soup for example), not as thick as your store-bought BBQ sauce. Add water if needed to thin or cook a bit longer if you need it to thicken more. Meanwhile, shred your meat using 2 forks (discarding any large portions of fat if needed). Put meat into bowl and pour BBQ sauce over. Place in your favorite grilled Kaiser roll or bun and enjoy!