Trying Meriden’s Easter Kielbasa

(CT Examiner)


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MERIDEN — Thursday afternoon, a line of holiday shoppers in ones and twos stretched out the door of V. Czapiga & Son, a century-old market barely a stone’s throw from the New Haven-Springfield line in a section of the city shared by aging homes and small businesses, an oil company, a recycler.

The mood was almost giddy as we waited our turn at the counter, chatted about the holiday and other sausage makers, picked up loaves of raisin or cheese babka, asked for u-shaped Easter kielbasa in sizes small and large.

The kielbasa was soft, warm and wrinkled from the smoking, wrapped in paper, and paid for by cash or check. Many were picking up several, which did not come cheap, for family out of town.

Heading home, we stopped into Noack’s — perhaps the best maker of fresh sausage in the state — for liverwurst, single- and twice-smoked kielbasa. It was, by comparison, quiet.

Back in Old Lyme, we placed one each from Czapiga and Noack — without cutting or pricking — onto a metal baking sheet, placed it into a preheated 350F oven, adding boiling water from a kettle when the pan was safely on a rack.

After 30 minutes (turning once) they were done — time enough to boil potatoes, open jars of spicy polish mustard, and prepare the sauerkraut.

Smoked kielbasa from Czapiga (top) and Noack (bottom) prior to cooking (CT Examiner)

The Czapiga kielbasa was delicate, soft and refined with a tender casing, and a mild pepper to it. Noack’s in contrast was robust and porky, with a pronounced bite.

Both are exemplars of their styles and well worth the drive if you live in Connecticut.