Sweet & Sour Kielbasa

Is this frugal? Maybe, or maybe not, but it is something I make regularly, much beloved by everyone in the house. It’s a rare meal that all three kids eat. I don’t have a recipe, but it’s straightforward. I was inspired by a dish of the same name by my sister, as more of a party appetizer, using whole berry cranberry sauce. Mine is more savory.

I put a tiny bit of water in a saucepan, and add a can of jellied cranberry sauce. Brand makes no difference, so I’m always delighted to get store brand for 99¢, or less in the case of an extended sale Hannaford had last fall. I like to use a small whisk to break it up, as the goal is to reduce it back to liquid. For a heavier batch, you can use a second can of cranberry. For thinner sauce, more water.

I add ample dry mustard (tablespoon?), some ginger and plenty of allspice. To be honest, between the flavor of cranberry sauce and kielbasa, I am not sure how much influence the seasoning even has. I think the mustard helps make it more savory, and I can tell the allspice is there. Ground cloves could probably sub for allspice, but I’d use less. They go well in homemade cranberry sauce, so it makes sense.

The other ingredient for the sauce is brown sugar. A lot of it. That’s the sweet. The cranberry without it is pretty tart. It also acts as a thickener, but too much would need to be balanced back out, if only by more mustard.

To the sauce I add pieces of kielbasa, thinly sliced coins, as much as I can manage. Cooked kielbasa! Obviously if you were starting from uncooked, you would want it to cook before saucing and finishing it off. I like the kielbasa to simmer on low heat in the sauce for long enough to darken and add its flavor to the sauce. How the sauce tastes before adding kielbasa is nothing like how it will taste, so use caution when you taste it before adding the meat and want to panic. The kielbasa, after a while, almost candies in the sauce.

I serve it over white rice. The beauty of this is you soak the rice with lots of sauce and put limited kielbasa on top, then the flavor is all in the rice and the rice becomes like eating meat. To add some kind of veggie, I normally have corn as a side. Tonight I also made butternut squash. I love this time of year! Butternut for 79¢ a pound yesterday.

I use Hillshire Farm kielbasa. One package, 14 oz, will do, but I generally use 1.5 to 2 packages worth. The beef kind can be used but has a different taste and texture. This has gotten rather high in price. Before Market Basket essentially shut down last year, it was routinely $2.99 and sales could be less. Once they opened, it was one of the things that was higher, be it because of supplier issues or needing to make up for the cost of being closed. Now a rare sale is $2.99, but they have large packs, equivalent to three regular ones, that are a much better buy. That makes it easier to make larger amounts.

Rice is cheap and overall it’s a reasonable, easy to stretch meal. It’s also quick and easy to make, and hard to mess up.

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