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Taste test: Polish kielbasa sausage

Every holiday buffet in my household included a dish of Polish sausage in honor of my father. His Polish-born parents never spoke English after emigrating from Europe to escape the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. My few memories of my grandfather were images of him making his own sausage in the basement of his Chicago greystone. My mother's version wasn't quite the same, but it was the effort we appreciated. This week, Taster's Choice purchased four brands of Polish kielbasa from local grocery stores and, like my mom, boiled them on the stovetop. Judges found a couple my late grandpa might even appreciate.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(out of 100)
Eckrich 70Kiolbassa 61Hillshire Farm 54Market Pantry 47
Judges'

comments
One judge plans to serve this brand at his Super Bowl party this weekend. "I like the nice smoky flavor and crisp skin," he said. "I can see a pot of these simmering in beer during the Super Bowl." Another said she, too, loved the crunchy casing, describing the texture as "snappy." The meat was moist and juicy with pleasing variations in color. "This would be great in sauerkraut," said another judge who detected a slight sweetness in the flavor.This brand of Kielbasa was pink with appealing pepper flakes. "This would be lovely with cooked cabbage or field peas," said one panelist. "I like that it glistens with a nice spicy flavor," said another. "I would dice it in a homemade mac and cheese," said a judge who liked the denseness of the link. One taster found the casing a bit rubbery for her liking.Slightly paler in color than the others, this Polish sausage offered a somewhat sweet rather than spicy flavor. "It tastes like a great hot dog," one judge said. "I would use it in a soup." Another said it would go better with rice and beans because it wouldn't overpower the dish.Target's Polish sausage had a nice pink hue, glossy casing and milder taste than the competition. Judges said it had a great balance between salty and sweet flavors. "It has a really neutral flavor that would pair well with spicier foods," said one panelist.
Would

they buy?
All four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$3.49 for a 14-ounce link from Publix.$5.49 for a 13-ounce package of four links from Publix.$3.49 for a 14-ounce link from Publix.$2.87 for a 12-ounce link from Target.


Panelists: Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and editorial director of

Sundaysuppermovement.com; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; Mary Jane Park, executive director of the St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District Association; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to mstark@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.

Serving size2 ouncesOne link2 ounces2 ounces
Calories180250180170
Fat/Fiber15g / 0g20g / 0g16g / 0g15g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium4g / 490mg0g / 650mg0g / 520mg1g / 520mg
Carbs/Protein4g / 6g1g / 16g3g / 6g2g / 6g

Taste test: Polish kielbasa sausage 02/01/16 [Last modified: Monday, February 1, 2016 2:06pm]
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