Coat of Arms
Popalis Family History
Wednesday, April 5, 2000
Pottsville Republican/Evening Herald
'Kilbo' popular Easter dish in many a county kitchen
BY LISA COONEY
"Most people spell it with a A' but in Shenandoah we spell it with an I' " explained Capitol Food Market owner Carole D. Stanakis.
Kielbasa, kielbassi, kielbasy, kielbosi or just plain "kilbo" is definitely a Coal Region favorite food for Easter time.
Shenandoah and Mahanoy City vendors for the popular sausage are very busy this time of year. Local demand for the fresh meat product creates lines outside shop doors.
Add to that the demand for the traditional food from "native sons" all over the country, the business owners are sometimes hard pressed to keep up with the demand. Some local shops hire extra help at this time of year.
Stanakis calls her "kielbassi" recipe a Coal Region variation, "a Polish recipe made by Lithuanians." She and husband Robert have operated the Capitol Food Market on East Washington Street for the past three years and have shipped their product as far away as Oakland, Calif.
To make kielbasi, pork butt or shoulder is ground and enclosed in natural beef casings. "The secret is in the seasonings," said Stanakis.
These differences in seasonings and how the meat is ground, coarsely or fine, accounts for the different tastes in locally produced kielbasi. Each recipe is a closely watched secret.
At Kowalonek's Kielbasy Shop on South Main Street in Shenandoah, owner Mark Kowalonek said his "kielbasy" recipe was passed down from his grandfather, Joseph, who originally started the family-owned business in 1911.
Martin J. "Marty" Hanrahan, Mahanoy City, inherited his Lithuanian "kielbossi" recipe from George Rudis, the butcher who came with the business when Hanrahan took over eight years ago.
"He was a good guy, more like a father to me," Hanrahan said of Rudis, who is now deceased. Rudis had worked at the site of Hanrahan's Market on Pine Street for 68 years.
Hanrahan estimates his business will sell more than 1,100 pounds of fresh and smoked "kielbossi" for Easter time. "Kielbossi" loaf is also a sure mover over the holidays as well.
"I have many people in here buying 100 rings at a pop," said Mike Kubert of Kubert's Fine Foods, Mahanoy City. He estimates he moves 5,000 to 7,000 pounds of fresh, smoked or loafed kielbasi over Easter time. He ships to various locations, including the state of Washington and Staten Island, N.Y.
The popularity of kielbasi for Easter has a lot to do with tradition.
"It's a staple for the holidays in this area," said Hanrahan.
"People ate it as children and continue to do so as adults," explained Stanakis.
David P. Lukashunas, Shenandoah, owner of Lucky's Corner Deli, Shenandoah, may have explained it best.
"It's an Old World custom that came over with the immigrants to this area," Lukashunas said. "In town here, people used to be able to keep and raise their own chickens and hogs. You couldn't keep a steer in town. They used to do their own butchering.
"You go to basements in town and in almost every basement you'll see one those little grinders," he said. "People made their own kielbasi, their own bologna."
Lukashunas calls his kielbasi a Polish/Lithuanian recipe because he experimented with two recipes: one from his Polish grandmother and the other from his Lithuanian grandmother, before hitting on the combination he uses today.
Recently, Lukashunas moved his business into the high-tech world of e-commerce, selling his freshly made meat products on line at www.luckyscornerdeli.8m.com.
All local markets ship their products to "transplanted" Schuylkill County natives or friends and relatives pick up the kielbasi and pass it on.
"In the supermarkets here, it has a lot of preservatives and it tastes generic," said Joan Kacelowicz Spencer, Falls Church, Va. Originally from Shenandoah, Spencer picks up smoked kielbasi for neighbors and friends in the Washington, D.C. area when she is in town.
"When my father would come to visit, on the airplane, he would pack a suitcase with a change of underwear, pounds and pounds of fresh kielbasi and good Jewish rye bread," said Mary Jo Zane Hashell, Portsmouth, N.H.
"Local kielbasi is such a disappointment. It tastes like hot dogs," said Hashell, who grew up eating her grandfather's own freshly ground sausage in Shenandoah.
Erma Stankavage, Shenandoah, said her daughter and granddaughter from Georgia never visit without taking a home a cooler full of kielbasi.
"They can't get it down there," she said. "It's like taking a little piece of Shenandoah home with them. They enjoy it so much."
To prepare fresh kielbasi, simply place the meat in a large frying pan on the stovetop. Add sufficient water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil and simmer with the lid on for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Cut meat into serving size pieces and enjoy with horseradish sauce or sauerkraut.
3 pounds kielbasi
1 bag of sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
1 medium jar applesauce
1 12-ounce can or bottle of beer
Mix together sauerkraut and applesauce and put in bottom of crock-pot. Cut kielbasi into serving size pieces and place on top of sauerkraut. Pour beer over all. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally.
Copyright © 2000 - 2014 by Andrew J. Popalis
All Rights Reserved