The sausage called kielbasa might be the food that Americans most recognize as Polish. But that doesn't mean a Polish person would recognize what's sold as "kielbasa" in most American supermarkets.
Unless you're shopping at a market frequented by Eastern Europeans, the kielbasa you'll probably see is a smoky, pre-cooked link made from pork or beef, flavored with garlic.
In Polish-friendly surroundings, however, kielbasa can mean a variety of sausages. It might not be smoked. It might be dried, flavored with tarragon or caraway, or a thicker version prized at wedding feasts.
Whichever variety you come home with, the sausage can be enjoyed numerous ways. It can be simply boiled, grilled, baked or sliced and fried. Cooked in soups or rice dishes, kielbasa adds its savory character to the entire dish.
Regional flavor: Kielbasa might be Polish for sausage, but its neighbors would recognize the term. "Klobasa" means sausage in Czechoslovakian and Slovakian. In Hungary it's "kolbasz."
This recipe, inspired by "Cook's Country," the down-home cousin of "Cooks Illustrated," advocates using kielbasa or chorizo sausage. If you don't like the idea of using clam juice, just substitute chicken broth or even water.
> Polish Shrimp
1 to 1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika, preferably smoked
4 to 6 ounces kielbasa or chorizo sausage
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 to 6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups water
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice, stock or water
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper
Set oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle paprika over shrimp and toss with 1 tablespoon oil and a big pinch of salt.
Choose a large frying pan with a lid that can go in the oven. Heat pan and add 1 tablespoon oil. Sear shrimp in pan, on one side and then the other, until just opaque, about 1 minute. (Use two batches if necessary to avoid crowding pan.) Remove shrimp and reserve, covered.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium heat and add garlic, plus kielbasa or chorizo, and onion. After 6 to 7 minutes, when garlic begins to brown, add rice, and stir. Cook until rice begins to become translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add tomatoes, water, clam juice or stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then cover and transfer pan to oven.
After about 20 minutes, rice should have soaked up liquid. Add peas and stir. Top with paprika shrimp, and allow rice to warm shrimp, about five minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary.