A food review by Daniel B.
Sitting wrapped in plastic at Adam’s Faircare Farms market in Kingston, this package of sausage links with its plain white label may not look like anything special. Telltale streaks in the label suggest a home-office laser printer that’s running low on toner. However the best barbecue often comes from ramshackle buildings that serve food on wax paper. So as they say, don’t judge a book by its cover.
Let’s be clear about one thing. These are no ordinary smoked kielbasa. These are from Rapacki & Sons and kielbasa is what they do best.
In places as far flung as Boston, Orlando, LasVegas, and LosAngeles people call this small butcher (at 800-486-KIELBASA naturally) to have this smoked pork and beef sausage shipped across the country, or make a pilgrimage to Long Island and pack kielbasa from Rapacki’s in their bags to bring home. Obviously, I had to give it a try and see what all the fuss was about
Over the past several years I’ve eaten a lot of kielbasa on my trips to rural Pennsylvania, where the Polish influence is keenly felt in the region’s food. There are lots of delicious ways to eat it, but my favorite is steamed in a pot of sauerkraut, and put on a bun with plenty of spicy brown mustard.
It’s not fancy food. But it’s delicious. Sometimes you have to cut loose and enjoy things that may have made a few extra stops on the way from the farm to the table.
Now I know that the label says these sausages are “Great on the B-B-Q” but I’m guessing they meant grill. Because these kielbasa are already smoked and cooked, so blasting them with more smoke would just be wrong. On the high heat of the grill, I’m sure the resulting char and blisters on the casing would add a bitter complexity to the sweet smoke of this pork and beef sausage. Still, I’m sticking with my tried and true technique as taught to me by my father-in-law who has enjoyed a lifetime of kielbasa.
It’s the slow and gentle moist heat from the sauerkraut that melts the fat in these links and transforms what looks like dried and shriveled sausages into plump and juicy morsels. Really, the metamorphosis is striking. However, my favorite part about Rapacki’s kielbasa is how the casings, even when steamed, provide a sturdy and satisfying crunch and snap.
Beneath the casing, is a juicy and tender sausage that is finely ground and well seasoned. It’s cured, so the kielbasa is a pleasing pink all the way through. When it’s served on a toasted bun with sauerkraut and mustard, the toppings help to cut through some of the fat and provide a lot of textural contrast. Although I like to imagine that all of the cabbage makes this a healthful dish.
I lie to myself a lot.
Rapacki doesn’t have a website. They have no Facebook page or Twitter feed. There are precious few citations about them on the Internet, but they are beloved on Chow and people like them onYelp. Stumbling upon the kielbasa from Rapacki’s feels like uncovering a well-kept secret.
And thanks to Adam’s Faircare Farms market in Kingston, you can buy a little piece of Long Island up here in the Hudson Valley.
About Daniel B.
A west coast transplant now living in Albany, Daniel Berman is applying his communication strategy background to food writing with the ultimate goal of improving the culinary landscape in the Capital Region. He writes the FUSSYlittleBLOG and contributes regularly to All Over Albany.