polish for a weekend
January 2009: Keep in mind that this is a two-day process that involves my uncle my aunt her mom, dad and me. (This adventure is not for everyone so please read with extreme caution. (It's illustrated.)
First, some history: My Aunt Julie's family is Polish. We were at a family gathering and my dad started talking about the pigs we were raising this summer.
My Aunt Julie had excitedly brought her dad into the conversation and the next thing I remember hearing was Julie's dad telling my dad, "You have to give me their butts! All I need are the butts." Ahh! Maybe this is a "Polish" thing? I know dad is really trying hard to get into this farming thing, but I don't recall him ever getting this excited over Pig Butts. He mostly just calls them, "Those stinkin' pigs," while shaking his head and cleaning the mud from boots.
Everyone was laughing... but in the end, I'm the one that ended up being adopted into the exclusive Order of the Home Made Polish Kielbasa. It turns out that during their conversation about Pig Butts (unknown to me) I was drafted as a temporary indentured servant to my Aunt in her wacky plan to teach me to make Kielbasa like her dad taught her.
My first thoughts of making Kielbasa: EEEUUUUUUWWWWW! YUCKY, NASTY, PIG MEAT AND GUTS! I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep down my breakfasts from the past several days. I made a note to myself: "Eat light."
pack your bag
OK, it's Friday afternoon. Time to pick up what's left of the pigs at the Farmland Meat Locker. Time to head out for two days of apprenticing and being a slave to the Kielbasa Masters. While we were driving (forty pounds of Pig Butts in the cooler) I kept thinking, "Would I pass-out? Will I be sick? How would I do?" OK so maybe I'm over exaggerating but my head was spinning. We had just butchered to very large pigs that we raised from little almost cute piglets. We then unloaded over three hundred pounds of little brown packages into the freezer. THE freezer. One freezer equals two pigs. No need to do the math. I was there.
Other than chickens (which don't seem like the same thing) this was the first time I've gone through this process with larger animals. There were a lot of things to think about. I guess dad was thinking things too. Probably more along the lines of, "Stinkin' Pigs equals lots of tasty bacon." His math problems were making him smile.
yucky nasty pig meat time
Here is the nasty partcutting the meat up into small pieces so that it will fit into the grinder. Talk about smelly and messy. YUCK!
Next we put all the meat into a pot. And since we had so much meat, we had to fill two and a half pots. We then seasoned it and mixed it well with water.
That's it? Yup. Not as hard as I thought it was going to be. All we had to do now is let it sit overnight.
It turns out, the only really gross part is you have to mix the meat with your hands. I was glad that part went well. Day one is now over.
Well... except that Friday is Pizza Night at our house. So once I knew my stomach was settled, my awesome Aunt and Uncle took me out for pizza! I guess being an indentured servant kitchen slave isn't that bad.
packing time or those are not noodles
Now we are on day two and we aren't packing our suitcase just yet.
After cutting, seasoning and the mixing, I was almost ready for anything but I had another thing coming - packing.
Before you start the packing you need something to put the filling into. These things are called the casings. Casings are NOT some kind of edible plastic, biodegradable tubes that come from some factory. Natural casings come from the pig's small intestine.
I guess you really can get artificial casings. Probably not really made out of plastic, but if not plastic, then what? Anyway, Aunt Julie and her family are POLISH. With them, they use the real deal or it's no deal!
The first thing you do with the casings, once you get them out of the bag of salt water they're packed in, is rinse them out in cold water. Next, you put the casings you want to use right away in a bowl of water. You never want your casings to dry out. They look like noodles, don't you think? But they aren't.
THEY ARE PIG GUTS! (Cleaned pigs guts, but still!)
kielbasa in the making
After a good rinse, we move to the grinder/packer. We slip one end of the casing onto a funnel, tie off the other end and in goes the pork; well seasoned and rested in the refrigerator over night of course. Once you fill the length you want to fill, tie off the other end and Presto! Home made Kielbasa. In our case, it turns out that forty pounds of Pork Butt makes enough Kielbasa for two families for a whole year. Maybe half a year if you're Polish.
Day two is now over. I was safely returned to my family with a cooler filled with around twenty pounds of home made fresh Kielbasa. Dad said it was an extra good deal that he got me back in the bargain. I don't think he meant that he was willing to trade me for the Kielbasa.
end of my adventure thoughts
At the end of two days of sausage making, I found that I had a stronger stomach than I expected. Making it wasn't as bad or as complicated as I thought it would be. It really just comes down to not filling your head with too many expectations. In the end, it was a little smelly, a little slimy (well... a lot slimy) and mostly it was an awesome experience with my Aunt and her parents being Polish for the weekend.
Homeschooling is not a
pedagogy, it's a lifestyle.
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