This ultimate recipe for the Polish Sausage combines several key ingredients to create the most delicious grilled sausage you’ve ever had.
The Cleveland Polish Boy is a specialty found in many bars, barbecue joints, chicken shacks, and hot dog stands in The Forest City (when did it get that nickname?). The sandwich is a similarly unlikely combo of a grilled sausage on a bun, topped with fries, slathered with sweet red barbecue sauce, and crowned with cole slaw. Not necessarily in that order.
In 2008 Esquire magazine dubbed the one at Freddie’s Southern Style Rib House “soul on white” and one of the best sandwiches in America (alas, it is now closed). According to Douglas Trattner in Cleveland Scene, the first Polish Boy was fashioned by Virgil Whitmore, of Whitmore’s Bar-B-Q in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood in the 1940s. Cleveland’s Chef Michael Symon cited the sandwich from the Seti’s Polish Boy food truck as “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network.
The sausage is called a kielbasa or Polie in Cleveland, and many are made of beef. In Poland, the word kielbasa (pronounced “kew-ba-sa” in Polish) is a generic word for sausage, so it can be both pork or beef, but the most famous is the Polska Kielbasa Wedzona, Polish Smoked Sausage. In Poland more than 100 sausages are regulated by the Polish Bureau of Standards. The Polska Kielbasa Wedzona must be no less than 80% pork, no more than 20% beef, fat, salt, pepper, sugar, garlic, and marjoram. Many are all pork. The meat is cured with sodium nitrite before it is coarsely ground, mixed with the spices, stuffed into hog casings, and then smoked.
In the US, butchers make “kielbasa” and “Polish sausage” (sometimes called “Polies”) to their tastes with their favorite ingredients. The blends vary significantly. The best are fatter than a hot dog and made with coarsely ground pork and highly seasoned with garlic and black pepper. My faves are the Chicago Maxwell Street Polish style (Chicago has the largest Polish population outside of Poland). The Vienna Beef brand is widely available in stores and on Amazon and Bobak’s, a pork beef blend, is available on the internet. A good nationally available example is the Hillshire Farms Polska Kilebasa, made with medium grind pork, beef, and turkey. It is more than 1″ (25.4 mm) thick.
- 6 Tater Tots
- 1 Hoagy roll
- 1 smoked pork Polish sausage
- 1 tablespoon Sweet Sour Slaw
- 1 tablespoon Yellow Mustard (or make my Columbia Gold)
- lots of napkins
These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page
- Cook. Follow the instructions on the bag and bake the Tater Tots, usually about 30 minutes at 425°F (218.3°C).
- Open the rolls and toast them on the grill. Try to keep the hinge intact in order to hold everything in.
- Grill the raw sausages til brown and crunchy outside and at least 155°F (68.3°C) inside. If the sausage has been precooked or smoked, you only need to go to 145°F (62.8°C).
- Serve. Usually the slaw goes on top of the sausage, but then it gets flavored by the BBQ sauce, and I like to keep its integrity. So I lay down the slaw first, then the sausage, then the sauce, then the Tots.
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