A Kielbasa for All Seasons

or drunken sausage on a Sunday afternoon

We have sausage from Poland, beer from Ireland, and cookware from the Netherlands..  I know what you're thinking - I've gone too far, the cultures are all mixed up.  "Not only can this not possibly work, but it's insulting to the purity of each cultural dish! Stop the madness!  Turn back while you still can!"  Wait!  Slow down, take a deep breath, rewind.  Feel better?  Ok.  Now - there's nothing wrong with mixing a few cultures together, none of us are particularly "pure" anyway, and it's not like we're launching a large scale invasion - we're just assisting in the marriage of some delightful ingredients into culinary bliss.  And who are we to judge?  If a kielbasa wants to soak alongside a pepper in a pool of beer, who are we to stand in their way?  It's all about equality here people.  That, and good food!  So now that we've made it through the social science lesson, I'll just step carefully off my soap box, and let's get on to the eats:

Where exactly am I going with this?  Someplace magical, someplace delectable, a place I like to call - Kielbasaland.  Where it is a sunny 70 degrees year round and happiness comes out of a pot in the form of delicious, juicy, flavorful sausage that simmers to perfection while you enjoy a lazy afternoon.  Or, as it was last Sunday, my house.  Closer to 68 degrees year round, and with one of those mood boosting SAD lamps I can definitely pull off the "sunny" part!  So let's just enjoy my fantasy together shall we?  Hmmmm... I can smell it now...

Kielbasa - 5, uncooked
Red bell pepper - 1/2
Yellow bell pepper - 1/2
Green bell pepper - 1/2
Yellow onion - 1/2
Minced garlic - 1 1/2 tsp
Beer - 4 bottles, Irish or any type you have on hand

Hardware: Dutch oven

This is so easy you'll giggle, or maybe that's just the beer talking...  Either way:

1. Place the kielbasa in the bottom of the Dutch oven and cover with half the beer.  Move them around a bit so they get comfortable and aren't looking too crowded.

2. Slice all the peppers into long thin pieces, kind of a thicker "julienne" style for you foodies out there.  Cut the onion into half rings and then add both the onion and the peppers to the pot.  Toss in the minced garlic and stir.  All the ingredients should be mingling nicely.

3. Bring to a simmer and then cover.  Continue to cook at a simmer for 4-6 hours.  Remember to come back periodically to stir, adjust the temperature, and add more beer.  The mixture should always be covered with liquid.  I do this on the stove top but it can also be done on the grill in the Summer if you are using a grill friendly dish.

4. When you are ready serve take out the kielbasa and sear slightly on a grill pan, grill, or cast iron skillet to give it nice crisp bite on the outside.  Once you get those grill marks established, return the kielbasa to the pot and stir to combine.  If you'd like to do the same with some of the veggies I'd recommend the grill pan rather than the open grill unless you have a disposable pan to toss them in, flame kissed is good - engulfed bad - just keep that in mind.  Serve on buns topped with a few of the accompanying veggies and some spicy relish.

I love this recipe because it works just as good mid-Summer as it does in the dead of Winter.  In warmer weather it's a kicked up grilling option that will have your family begging for more, and in cooler weather it's a perfect comfort food that fills the house with it's delightful aroma as simmers throughout the day.  Regardless of the season, this simple dish is sure to please.

You've probably seen or done a close version of this dish with the kielbasa's not so distant cousin - the bratwurst - and it is in no way my most original recipe.  What it is, is my take on a family favorite.  My parents did it up with Italian sausage or tossed in brats when friends were coming over, but my heart belongs to kielbasa - and as such, so does this recipe.  So give it a shot, a tweak or two to your own tastes, and enjoy!

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