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Football fans will root for kielbasa

It’s football season — time to get social.

Fall football fervor is familiar to me. I grew up in Memphis and remember rooting for Ole Miss, my parents’ favorite team. My mother and dad used to pack the car with blankets and food baskets on Saturday mornings, then rush across the state line to Oxford to attend the University of Mississippi games. For more than a decade, my husband, son and I lived in Columbus, Ohio, where we cheered the Ohio State University Buckeyes. On football weekends in Ohio, tens of thousands turn out for the contests and numerous pre- or post-game parties.

Whether for college, high school or junior high competitions, pigskin fans love to gather over food and drink. The cool, crisp days of fall seem to pique appetites, and then, of course, there’s the camaraderie of team support.

I recently discovered a recipe for grilled kielbasa brushed with spicy apricot mustard and served on toasted buns that would be perfect for gridiron celebrations. The robust taste of the kielbasa is complemented by a simple mustard sauce flavored with apricot preserves and rosemary. Cole slaw and baked beans would make fine accompaniments.

Although I envision these hearty sausages as the centerpiece of a casual meal offered after a game, they also could be served earlier at a tailgate picnic. If you don’t have a small portable grill for cooking the kielbasa on site, you can prepare the meat at home, using either an outdoor grill or a stove-top grill pan. After the sandwiches are assembled, they should be wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, then packed and quickly transported so they stay warm.

Regardless of the final score, these delicious sandwiches will make you a winning host.


Kielbasa on Toasted Buns
with Hot Apricot Mustard


Hot Mister Mustard, available in many supermarkets, works particularly well in this recipe.

  • Vegetable oil, for oiling grill rack
  • 1 (1-pound) package regular or cooked kielbasa sausage
  • 8 premium hot dog buns or long rolls, lightly toasted
  • Hot Apricot Mustard (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (optional)

Oil a grill rack and arrange 4 to 5 inches from the heat source. Prepare grill for a hot (high temperature) fire.

While the grill is heating, cut the kielbasa into 4 equal links. Cut each link in half lengthwise so that you have 8 pieces. Grill the kielbasa until hot and lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. (The internal temperature should be 165 degrees.)

Place each kielbasa link in a toasted bun. Brush the links generously with some Hot Apricot Mustard and garnish, if desired, with the chopped onion. You may have some mustard left over; save it for another use.

Makes 8 servings.


Hot Apricot Mustard


  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/2 cup prepared hot mustard
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

Place the apricot preserves in a small, heavy nonreactive saucepan. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, chop up any large pieces of apricot.

Set the pan over medium heat and whisk constantly until liquefied, for 1 minute or less. Whisk in the mustard and continue to cook until the mixture becomes almost translucent and starts to simmer, for 1 minute or less. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped rosemary.

(This can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, over low heat.)

Makes about 11/2 cups.

Betty Rosbottom is a cooking school director from Massachusetts.


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