I absolutely love my outdoor Bradley smoker. When I first got it I had to smoke ribs and they were to die for! I used the classic 3-2-1 method to prepare them and it worked perfectly. Of course I had to make my own rub and BBQ sauce to go with it and none of is disappointed. Now that I type this I realize that none of these have made it to the website. I will have to add these recipes in the weeks to come.
Since I got the smoker in the spring I have smoked ribs, shoulder, tenderloin, chicken wings, whole chicken and sausage. Now I am onto making homemade smoked sausage. Since my family origin is from the Ukraine, I had to make kielbasa first. In the end I split the sausage into 2 batches and made both kielbasa and andouille at the same time. There was definitely some things that I learned about making kielbasa along the way.
- Even though using lean cuts of meat is healthy, there is a need for some pork fat in the kielbasa. Some people recommend meat to fat ratios anywhere from 80-20 to 70-30. I chose to go with the leaner option of 80% meat and 20% fat.
- I did not want to grind all the meat as I like to have ‘ham’ chunks in the sausage. So I reserved about 1/3 of the meat and diced it. Well, in the end, I diced it too large and it was very difficult to get through the stuffer. Next time I will dice the meat in smaller pieces.
- Make sure that you use cure. Because the smoker is at such a low heat for a prolonged period of time the pork does not get to the necessary 165F within the 4 hour timeframe and that can cause botulism. Clearly that is not something anyone wants, so to prevent that using a cure is the smartest and safest best. Use 1 tsp for every 5 pounds of meat.
While you can purchase and use ground pork, I prefer to grind my own. That way I can ensure the freshness of the meat and the ratio of fat. I try to aim for a meat to fat ratio of 70:30.
Feed the sausage casing onto the funnel. You will want to bunch up as much of the casing onto the funnel as possible. That makes it easier to fill with the sausage meat and keep the air out.
I have a special sausage stuffer by Weston and it holds lots of sausage mixture.
I fill the chamber close to the top with meat. Then wind the handle to get ready to push the meat into the casings.
Start to wind the handle and the sausage meat will start to go through the funnel. Once it is all the way through to the end of the funnel, tie up the end of the casing, making sure there is no air in the casing.
Keep filling the sausage until you have a nice sized kielbasa ring.
Pull off the casing and tie it up tight, making sure there is not air in the kielbasa ring. Cut the casing with kitchen shears and start over again to make another ring of kielbasa.
I hang all the kielbasa rings while I am stuffing them. Once they are all stuffed, they are ready to go into the smoker.
I like to hang my kielbasa rings in the smoker using sausage hooks, but it is also possible to simply lay them down on smoker racks. I start the smoker at 130F and increase it by 20F every hour.
Make sure the kielbasa are not touching each other during the smoking as that will impact it coming up to temperature evenly.
After 4 hours of smoking, I take them out of the smoker and put them in a hot water bath and bring them up to 165F
Here are the kielbasa coming out of the smoker. Just look at that colour!
It is not necessary for the kielbasa to come to a boil. I keep the temperature of the water just under a boil and this works great to bring the kielbasa up to 165F fairly quickly. Once the kielbasa reach 165F, keep them in the water bath, simmering, for 45 minutes.
After the kielbasa has been in the hot water bath, dump them into an ice water bath to quickly chill the kielbasa.
Once chilled, I hang the kielbasa for a couple hours to ‘bloom’. I find this enhances the flavours.
The best way to store the kielbasa is to vacuum seal them in bags and keep them in the freezer. They are good stored this way for months!
Smoked Kielbasa - How to Smoke Kielbasa Recipe
- 5 lbs pork shoulder or fresh ham
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 3 tsp salt
- 3 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp dried marjoram
- 1 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup skim milk powder
- 1 tsp cure
- sausage casings
- Cut the pork meat and pork fat into 1-2 inch cubes. Pass them through a meat grinder. Consider reserving about 1/3 of the pork meat and dice into small chunks so that there are chunks of ham in the sausage.
- In a large bowl, stir the meat with the remaining ingredients (spices, cure, water, milk powder). Knead it together well so that everything is combined thoroughly. Place in the fridge and let marinate for 3 hours or so.
- Take the meat mixture out of the fridge and stuff the sausage casings according to the instructions of your sausage stuffer.
- Preheat the Bradley smoker for 130F with your choice of wood pucks smoking in it. Place the kielbasa in the smoker by either laying them on the racks or hanging them on hooks.
- The kielbasa needs to smoke in the smoker for four hours. Each hour increase the temperature 20F. So hour one is 130F, hour 2 is 150F, hour 3 is 170F and hour 4 is 190F.
- After they have been in the smoker for 4 hours take them out and put them in a hot water bath that has the water preheated at 165F. Keep them in the hot water bath for 45 minutes.
- Remove the kielbasa from the hot water bath and hang them for 1-2 hours so that they can bloom.