While Philadelphia has become more and more of a hot dog city, with two new spots opening in the next few months, one thing it's always been is a sausage town. Italian, German, Pennsylvania Dutch, Polish—we've got all sorts of uber-authentic, homemade encased meats that aren't really hot dogs but are just too incredible not to write about.
A few weeks ago we featured the kielbasa from Swiacki Meats in Port Richmond; this week it's a kielbasa variety from nearby Krakus Market, a full-service Polish grocery store and restaurant that also has a staggering variety of house-cured Polish meats and sausages.
The variety is overwhelming here, with the standard kielbasa and kabanosy but also "Polish Hot Dog Kielbaski," Hunters-Style, Wedding Sausage, Smoked Juniper Sausage, Thick Ring Kielbasa, and all sorts of deli meats like headcheese, tongue, and Polish Mortadella.
Aside from the meat case there's also a full selection of Polish groceries, everything from pierogi (many varieties) to imported Polish beers and an incredible array of mustards, pickles, and sauces that are ridiculously affordable. Things like red pepper mustard and apple horseradish for no more than $1.25 a jar.
Of course we had to try out the "Pyszne Hot-Dog Kielbaski" which was basically a smoked mini kielbasa in the shape of a hot dog with a thick natural casing. It's cooked in an iron skillet with a slab of imported polish butter, on a club roll with some pickles and whole-grain mustard. Delicious but the bread was too much; the next batch served on standard hot dog buns turned out to be the way to go.
Notice that while these are definitely the shape and size of a hot dog, the meat grind is coarser and more like a kielbasa, as was the intense smoky pork-garlic flavor. Not a bad thing at all, these can really stand up to strong mustards and horseradish where a standard hot dog might get lost under the toppings.
Next up was the rope kielbasa, steamed in water before being finished off in the pan with more of the polish butter. Coarse ground, mildly smoked and insanely garlicky, it smelled like a garlic factory for the next two days but we couldn't stop eating it. We tried these a bunch of different ways but the kielbasa was so delicious and powerful, all you really need is some horseradish and a beer.
Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.