Looking back at the first couple months of recipes in 2020, I realized everything I shared is either process heavy, ingredient heavy, or both. So I thought it was apt to change direction a bit with something really easy, but no less delicious, with these kielbasa bites. The idea for these came to me at the end of last summer when I had a strong craving for my standard order of grilled kielbasa that I got at the Beer Garden in Astoria, NY. After living in the neighborhood for over 10 years, that plate of charred sausage served alongside rye bread, mustard, and sauerkraut had become a real comfort to me, and I usually get back to the Beer Garden at least once a year to get my fix during my frequent work trips to New York, but never made it in 2019, so that required me to take matters into my own hands.
Usually the four ingredients here are served separately, but I made these for a cocktail party-themed cookout, so I decided to assemble them together into one-bite portions that would be fitting for the theme. At the Beer Garden, the bread doesn't come toasted, but I think hot bread is always better, so took the extra step of warming the bread first, which was a quick task given the large surface area provided by the grill.
Next I grilled up my kielbasa, which I chose to use the cooked version you find in grocery stores rather than attempt to make my own. Although I've been having greater success with sausage making as a of late, highly emulsified specimens like kielbasa are more difficult to pull off in a home kitchen, so I still prefer to get these types of links from a professional source. I also chose to go with the all-beef version, which, after being charred over a hot fire, tasted pretty similar to what I'm used to getting at the Beer Garden, so I was satisfied with how things were going even before the recipe was finished.
To assemble these into the small portions I wanted, I first sliced the bread into roughly two-inch squares, spread a layer of spicy brown mustard atop each piece, and then added on a helping of sauerkraut. Next I cut the kielbasa on a bias into approximately one-inch slices and topped each piece of bread with one of them.
These provided the exact taste I was longing for last fall. The kielbasa was incredibly juicy with its distinct smoky and lightly spiced flavor that was enhanced a lot from the char and snap of the casing. Because of my personal history with this sausage, the crunch and tartness of the sauerkraut, strong spicy bite of the mustard, and earthy tang of the crackling rye were the exact right pairings for the sausage, making each bite a perfect combination in my mind. I popped a bunch of these even though they were the last thing to come of the grill that day and I was already pretty stuffed, which should give you a good indication that they're damn tasty, and a big plus is that they're also damn easy to make, which I know can't be said of all the recipes I share.
- Yield 12 servings as an appetizer
- Prep 10 Minutes
- Cook 10 Minutes
- Total 20 Minutes
- 1 loaf rye bread, sliced
- 2 links cooked kielbasa
- 3/4 cup spicy brown mustard
- 16 oz sauerkraut
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Working in batches as necessary, place bread slices on grill near, but not directly over, fire. Toast bread, flipping occasionally until lightly browned and crusty, about 1 minute per side. Transfer bread slices to a cutting board and cut into pieces approximately 2-inches square.
- Place kielbasa on grill and cook until lightly charred on both sides and heated through, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer sausage to a cutting board and cut into approximately 1-inch slices on a bias.
- Spread mustard on each piece of bread and then top with sauerkraut and kielbasa slices. Serve immediately.