A Brief Introduction To Kishka

Mention the word ‘Kishka’ and you’re bound to get a reaction. Said reaction often includes a nervous look of trepidation and doubt.

‘Isn’t that BLOOD sausage?!’
‘What is even in it?!’
‘Is there really blood in it?’
‘How do you cook and eat it?!’

The first thing we always assure customers of is that yes, while there is a small amount of beef blood, it is present to add a deep, rich color to the Kishka and doesn’t affect the flavor, like one would think. In Nolechek’s tradition, Kishka is a specialty old-world sausage product that blends pork and pork snouts with beef blood. Just when you think you’ve heard a million ways people make kishka, someone comes along with another recipe. And don’t ever try to argue whose version is better because no one wins when comparing family recipes.

For many families, the recipe is generational and can be traced back to a specific region or culture. Every country has some form of blood sausage. The English call it blood or black pudding; the French have Boudin noir; in Germany you’d ask for Blutwurst, but if you were in Spain, Morcilla. You can even find Blutwurst in the Netherlands. Rice, flour or matzo meal can be used for texture, while others use buckwheat. Warm, rich spices add to the flavor profile and make it unique to the culture from which it comes.

Read on to learn more about how Nolechek’s creates this truly handcrafted product and don’t forget to enjoy our favorite Polka song, ‘Who Stole the Kishka’ by Frankie Yankovic to really get you in the mood.

The Process

Nolechek’s starts with the highest quality pork butts that are the perfect balance of lean-to-fat. The pork butts are cooked in our steam jacketed cook kettles, like we use for Pork & Chicken Loaf. And don’t worry, that delicious, rich pork broth doesn’t go to waste. We use it to cook the buckwheat and barley that is later added to the sausage. 

Next the pork snouts take their turn in the cook kettle. Why pork snouts? They add another layer of texture to the Kishka. That’s what old-world specialty sausage is all about…texture, flavor and tradition! When the snouts are finished cooking, they are ground before adding them to the rest of the ingredients.

Are those dried cranberries you see? Yes, they are! Traditionally, raisins are added to Kishka for a hint of sweetness and we decided to take it to the next level and add dried cranberries that are Wisconsin grown! Nolechek’s blend of seasonings include black pepper, onion powder and a hint of coriander, sage and marjoram that are perfectly balanced to complement the pork.

We grind the pork butts coarse and then the blood is added. We then mix in the buckwheat, barley, and seasoning. All ingredients are added in various stages and with several passes through the grinder. This ensures everything is properly combined. You can see how the color deepens as the blood and spices are added.

The kishka is stuffed into a beef round before it is steamed and fully cooked. While a beef round is a natural casing, we don’t recommend, as it is very tough. By this point, you should have ‘Who Stole the Kishka’ stuck in your head and wondering how you are ever going to get it out. After the Kishka is finished cooking, the final step is packaging and labelling.

How Do You Enjoy Kishka?

Our favorite way to enjoy Kishka is to remove it from the casing and pan fry it with a little butter. It gets nice and crisp, almost like a hash. It pairs great with eggs for breakfast or potatoes for supper. However you decide to enjoy it, don’t forget to drizzle it with Craig’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Smokey Maple Syrup. Trust us on this one. You can also fry or simmer it in the casing so it keeps its shape. Just as there are countless ways to make Kishka, there are countless ways to enjoy Kishka!

Shop for Kishka and our other equally unique old-world sausages here