There isn’t a drop of Polish between myself and the IT Director. That being the case, our Easter festivities always include kielbasa and sauerkraut. Perhaps our taste buds are Polish?
This wasn’t always the case. My Irish mother occasionally boiled a kielbasa and served it with kraut straight from the can for dinner. I think my father enjoyed it, but it was one of those “if I take tiny bites, I can swallow it without chewing” meals for me. This was in the days where opting out of the dinner entree for cereal wasn’t tolerated.
My husband’s Italian mother and Yankee grandmother ( this was the only ethnicity she claimed) would cook it up when there was a family buffet. But it was never an Easter tradition for us until years later, when my children attended a parochial school which was operated by a Catholic parish of Polish origination. I guess that the parish was exclusively Polish at one time, but that was many years ago. Still, the traditions survived and traditional Polish food was part of the fundraising and social traditions. Handmade pierogies, golumpkies (stuffed cabbage), with kielbasa and kraut became part of our regular diet, comfort food in any language. We loved it all and quickly adapted. It just wouldn’t be Easter without Polish kielbasa.
I bake my kielbasa, cut up, with the sauerkraut (including the juice) mixed in. Borrowing from my Yankee grandmother-in-law, I mix brown sugar in with it all to cut the sour taste. I have no hard rule on how much brown sugar to add. The kraut is sour and acidic enough to stand on its own, so you can add quite a bit before you will detect any sweetness. I add enough to color it a light brown, enough to be able to tell it’s there. Then I bake it for at least an hour at 350 degrees. If you like it well done and a bit crunchy, don’t be afraid to cook it longer. The sausage is, of course, already cooked, so it’s really a matter of your preference. The brown sugar mellows the taste and blends with the flavors of the kraut and the sausage really well. It will convert nonbelievers.
Serve it with bold mustard as a side dish and create a tradition!